After a historic summer of large scale fires in Okanogan County, Forest officials urge extra caution and awareness to those adventuring on National Forest Lands. Closures are still in place for some roads, trails and areas. Hazards from falling snags, burned or burning stump holes and debris flows are all considerations for recently burned lands.
Patrol and mop-up efforts continue after fires are contained and the expectation is that firefighters will be working in the fire areas, in some capacity, until winter snows push them out. As the smoke fades, firefighters will continue their suppression repair work to mitigate adverse effects resulting from fire suppression activities. These efforts include erosion control, noxious weed control and preventing the establishment of unmanaged recreation as well as repairing fences, gates, range developments and cattleguards damaged or destroyed by suppression activities. Burned Area Emergency Response Teams are also out in the fire areas, assessing burn severity, then developing and implementing response strategies.
“Amidst the safety messages, it is important that visitors to the Forest know about pertinent closures and restrictions,” said Matt Reidy, Tonasket District Ranger. “There are areas of burned trees, for example, that are not available to woodcutters either because there is a safety related closure or because those trees are being considered for sale as part of fire recovery efforts.”
Fire related closures that are still in place for National Forest Lands in Okanogan County are shown online on the interactive fire closure map at www.fs.usda.gov/main/okawen/maps-pubs. They include:
· National Forest lands south of Highway 20 and Forest Road 3125, east of Tonasket to the Ferry County Line.
· National Forest Lands south/southwest of Conconully from the Forest Boundary, following Forest Road 4200-400 west to Cabin Creek then continuing west to 4235.
· National Forest Lands north of Conconully including Schallow Mountain to Fish Lake and Funk Mountain west to Forest Road 3810.
· Forest Roads 4010 (Black Canyon), 4100-300 (Finley Mtn), 4100-370 (Finley Canyon), 4108670, 4150-200 (Yockey), 4200), 4235-100 (Middle Beaver), 4330 (South Fork Gold Creek), 4330-200 (McFarland Creek), 4330-400 (North Hunter Mtn), 4330-600 (Upper South Fork Gold Creek), and 4415 (Little Bridge Creek).
· Forest Trails 417 (Foggy Dew & Sunrise Lake), 438 (Foggy Dew Ridge), 340 (Long Draw), and 361 (Schallow Mtn).
For current information about forest closures and recreation opportunities, please call either the Methow Valley or Tonasket Ranger District at 509-996-4000 or 509-486-2186 or visit the Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/okawen.