Forest Visitors and Hunters Reminded to be Prepared and Aware
Incident: North Pass Wildfire
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WILLOWS, Calif. - Two large fires this year have affected popular recreation, wilderness and hunting areas on the Mendocino National Forest.
For both public and firefighter safety, the Forest continues to have two closure orders in place, restricting access to both the North Pass and Mill Fire areas.
The Forest is working hard to keep the latest road and area closure information current on the Forest website, Inciweb (inciweb.org) and Twitter (@Mendocinonf).
The Mill Fire closure order number is 08-12-09. The latest closure for the North Pass Fire is order 08-12-15. Maps of both closure areas, along with the associated closure order, can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/mendocino. Click on alerts and notices in the left column, then scroll down to the "Closures" heading.
Closures can change daily, and hunters should periodically check the website or call the Forest for the most current updates. Forest officials are hesitant to make promises about when the fire closure orders will be rescinded.
"Fire suppression activities are affected by numerous factors, and even after the fire is contained it may not be safe for the public to enter the area due to active fire and snags," said Mendocino National Forest Supervisor Sherry Tune. "We will open the areas when we are confident that the conditions in the area are no longer a threat and the resources have sufficiently stabilized."
The North Pass Fire area, burning in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness and south to the FH7 (Mendocino Pass Road) has been a concern for hunters wanting to access areas they have gone to for generations.
There are numerous concerns for Forest managers trying to maintain firefighter and public safety, beyond fire activity and standing dead trees and snags that can fall with little notice.
This includes continued fire activity, including suppression and repair activities, involving travel on narrow mountain roads. There are still hundreds of firefighters travelling on Forest roads and working in remote areas. With deer hunting rifle season starting this weekend, the concern extends to the visibility of the many firefighters working in this remote area.
Even though the North Pass Fire is approaching containment and the smoke has become less noticeable, the fire is still not controlled. There will still be fire and hot spots in the area until the winter rains and snow come.
Until the fire is controlled, there are many dangers in the fire area, including burning stump holes, which aren't readily visible, slippery conditions in areas covered in ash and burned needles, and weakened trees that can fall suddenly and without warning.
As a reminder, for those recreating in open areas of the Forest this fall:
-Be aware of current conditions before heading to the forest, including closure orders, alerts, notices and current weather.
-Be prepared for changing conditions, including the appropriate gear and layered clothing. Especially in the mountain, weather conditions can change rapidly from hot and sunny to cold and wet.
-Let someone know when you are leaving, where you are going and when you will be back.
-If camping in the open forest, select a level campsite away from dead trees or possible rolling debris. Remember to look up to identify potential hazards.
-Flash flooding and mud flows may be common in areas without vegetation.
The Forest is in fire restrictions until there are drenching rains. Please call 530-934-3316 for current information.
Visitors are reminded to stay on authorized roads. Forest maps, including Yolla Bolly and Snow Mountain Wilderness maps, can be purchased at Forest offices. The latest Forest Motor Vehicle Use Maps are also currently available free of charge at Mendocino National Forest offices.
"We want the hunters to have a safe season and for other visitors to have a safe and enjoyable experience on the Forest as the summer recreation season draws to a close," Tune said. "We appreciate everyone's cooperation in helping us safely conclude our fire season by respecting and abiding by the current Forest Closures."
For more information, please contact the Mendocino National Forest at 530-934-3316, or visit www.fs.usda.gov/mendocino.