The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is restricting fires and other activities as of last Friday (July 1) on agency-managed lands in eastern Washington. Clay Sprague, manager of the WDFW Lands Division, said the department is taking steps to reduce the risk of fire in its wildlife areas and access areas.

Restrictions on agency lands east of the Cascades prohibit:

  • Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings. Personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.
  • Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle.
  • Welding and the use of chainsaws. Operating a torch with an open flame and all equipment powered by an internal combustion engine is prohibited.
  • Operating a motor vehicle away from developed roads. Parking is permitted within designated parking areas, including developed campgrounds and trailheads; and in areas without vegetation that are within 10 feet of roadways.

The restrictions will remain in effect until conditions improve and the risk of wildfires decreases, Sprague said.

Fireworks are prohibited year-round at all 33 WDFW wildlife areas and 700-plus water access sites around the state.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also instituted a burn ban on DNR-protected lands in eastern Washington effective last Saturday (July 2). The ban applies to all outdoor burning on state forests, state parks and forestlands under DNR fire protection east of the crest of the Cascade Mountains. The burn ban is scheduled to remain in effect through Sept. 30. It may be extended or shortened based on fire weather. Outdoor burning may also be eventually banned in western Washington as conditions warrant.

Fireworks and incendiary devices, such as exploding targets, sky lanterns, or tracer ammunition are illegal on all DNR-protected forestlands. Fires powered by gas stoves and charcoal briquettes are allowed in designated fire pits within state, county, municipal and other campgrounds.

County burn ban

The Okanogan County commissioners banned all outdoor burning last week because of the potential for large, catastrophic fires. Under the ban, agricultural burning and outdoor burning of yard waste are prohibited. The use of gas- or charcoal-fired barbecues is allowed. Fireworks are prohibited throughout the county, on both public and private land.

An exception to the burn ban is in orchards that have been afflicted by fire blight bacteria. People may obtain a special permit to burn infected trees, which requires consultation with the county’s pest-control agent and strict provisions to control the fire.

The burn ban is effective immediately and will continue until the commissioners rescind it.