AUGUST 5, 2010

Corps reminds visitors about fire hazards, restrictions

   Visitors enjoying outdoor summer fun opportunities at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation facilities should be aware of fire conditions and temporary fire restrictions.  

   Wildfires are a seasonal problem in the Northwest. This year, a mild spring followed by heavy rains in mid-June led to an abundance of grass and shrub growth – known as “ladder fuel” to fire-fighters.  With temperatures already hitting the 90s in July, this undergrowth and grass is dry and easily ignited if exposed to a fire source. Once started, wildfires can quickly devastate miles of valuable forest and wildlife habitat lands.

   On Corps-managed lands, fires are allowed only in designated areas, such as campfire rings and grills, or using gas or propane cooking devices designed for such purpose. Fires must be attended as all times and must be completely extinguished prior to visitors’ departure.

   Because of the current fire-risk conditions in several locations along the lower Snake River, additional restrictions are in effect through Oct. 10 on Lake Bryan, upstream of Little Goose Lock and Dam, and Lower Granite Lake, upstream of Lower Granite Dam. At Corps recreation facilities on these lakes, no wood or paper products may be burned – charcoal briquettes may be used in campfire rings and grills. Gas or propane cooking devices are also allowed.

   A carelessly tended campfire at the Corps’ Pipeline Gulch Recreation Area of Lucky Peak Lake near Boise, sparked a blaze on Saturday, July 24, that burned 75 acres of surrounding habitat lands within a few hours of starting. Emergency response crews contained the fire using helicopters and boats. This was the second wildfire to occur in recreation areas near the lake – the first occurred July 18 and burned 15 acres in the Barclay Bay area.

   “Visitors should take extra precautions, not only with campfires, but also with other sources of ignition, such as cigarettes, vehicle exhaust systems and even charcoal briquettes,” said Deb Norton, lead ranger at Dworshak Dam and Reservoir. “Visitors should carry a shovel, bucket and fire extinguisher to quench their fires.”

   All visitors are asked to call 911 if they see problems or issues with fires or suspicious smoke.

   Information on recreation Corps opportunities is available on the Walla Walla District Web site at