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BLM increasing public use restrictions due to fire danger

The Bureau of Land Management Medford District is increasing public use restrictions due to rising fire danger. Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Forestry
Restrictions also going into effect on lower Rogue River

With fire danger continuing to rise, the Bureau of Land Management Medford District is increasing public use restrictions on its land in Southern Oregon.

The district will move to Stage 3 public use restrictions Wednesday, which means campfires will no longer be allowed anywhere on the district, including at Hyatt Lake campground. Visitors can use portable cooking stoves that use liquefied or bottled fuels. Campfires, charcoal fires and all other types of open fires are prohibited, officials said.

Smoking is allowed only while inside a vehicle or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is clear of flammable vegetation.

Operating a motor vehicle, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, and parking off road is allowed only on roadways clear of flammable vegetation.

Using chainsaws, fireworks, exploding targets or tracer ammunition is prohibited.

Welding or operating a torch with an open flame also is prohibited.

Visitors to BLM-managed public lands are required to carry tools with them to ensure small fires can be put out quickly, including a shovel, ax and at least one gallon of water or a 2.5-pound fire extinguisher.

Violation of these restrictions can result in a fine up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year.

Also starting Wednesday, BLM, the Oregon Department of Foresty and U.S. Forest Service are increasing restrictions along the Wild Section of the lower Rogue River.

The Wild Section flows from Grave Creek to the mouth of Watson Creek.

Effective Wednesday, fires are permitted only with the use of commercial stoves that use liquid fuel or propane. Charcoal fires will not be permitted.

Cooking areas need to be naturally clear of vegetation and below the high water mark. As a preventative measure, groups traveling on the river must have a shovel and bucket.

Smoking is permitted only while on watercraft on waterways, or in areas that are on vegetation-free sand and gravel bars located between the river and high water mark.

Additional fire restrictions may be put in place as fire season progresses.

“The safety of the public and all wildland fire responders is always the number one priority for all wildland fire agencies. This year, it is especially important everyone does their part to reduce human-caused wildfires,” BLM said in a statement.

BLM officials said they are taking the necessary steps to ensure their ability to deploy firefighters for wildfire response.

Officials said they are committed to the most efficient wildfire-suppression operations during these challenging times.

The Western United States is in the most expansive and intense drought this century, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and the drought continues to intensify in parts of the Pacific Northwest, including Southern Oregon.

Jackson and Josephine counties experienced the driest April and May on record. The data go back 111 years.

For updated information on public use restrictions, visit blm.gov/programs/public-safety-and-fire/fire-and-aviation/regional-info/oregon-washington and the Oregon Department of Forestry at oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx.

Visit ready.gov/wildfires to learn how you can prepare for fire season.