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Federal lands issue campfire restrictions

High temperatures and dry timber and brush have led to Crater Lake National Park issuing bans on open wood and charcoal fires within park boundaries.

The restrictions come as the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest also issues a spate of fire restrictions meant to curb the possibilities of igniting wildfires.

Until further notice, wood fires and charcoal fires are not allowed within Crater Lake National Park. However, liquid fuel, propane camp stoves and gas grills are allowed in campgrounds, picnic areas and even backcountry and residential areas, according to the National Park Service.

Also, smoking is allowed only in vehicles, provided there is an ash tray for ashes and butts. No flicking of ashes or butts from vehicles is allowed.

Also, smokers can partake while stopped in an area with at least 3 feet of area around them free of potentially burning materials, according to the Park Service.

When doing so, ashes and butts cannot be discarded on the ground, the Park Service rule states.

While the goal is voluntary compliance, violators can be cited or arrested, the Park Service warns.

The changes at Crater Lake came Thursday just as the Rogue River-Siskiyou Forest enacted its latest cutbacks for campers and others to reduce wildfire possibilities.

Campers and others are now only allowed to ignite campfires in designated and open recreation sites as long as the fires are within Forest Service-built fire rings.

Those sites include all the popular and open campgrounds in the High Cascades, Gold Beach and other ranger districts within the forest.

For a full listing of open campgrounds where fires in designated rings are permitted, see the forest’s website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/rogue-siskiyou/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD1045790.

Niemela garners ODFW promotion

A state wildlife biologist based in Southern Oregon for more than 16 years is now heading both fish and wildlife efforts in the Portland area.

Steve Niemela is now the manager of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s North Willamette Watershed.

The watershed encompasses the North Willamette River as well as the Clackamas River and lands where half of Oregon’s population resides.

Niemela, a 47-year-old native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, was the assistant district wildlife biologist and then the district wildlife biologist in the Rogue Valley since the mid-2000s.

“The Rogue Valley was really good to me,” Niemela says. “I like it up here (on the Willamette), but it’s hard to leave the Rogue.”

Niemela’s previous Rogue Valley job has yet to be filled.

Mark Freeman covers the outdoors for the Mail Tribune. Reach him at 541-776-4470 or by email at mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com.