Fire restrictions ease for Oregon’s national and state forests, but wildfire cautions persist

By Monica Samayoa (OPB)
Oct. 1, 2021 10:34 p.m.

As cooler, wet weather descends upon the Pacific Northwest, forest managers are easing fire restrictions, but still keeping an eye out for wildfires.

Many national and state forests in Oregon and Washington have lifted campfire restrictions but are urging the public to be aware of what remaining restrictions might still be in place in different parts of the two states. The fire restrictions were implemented during the summer to reduce the risk of wildfires while hot, dry conditions persisted.


The U.S Forest’s Mark Thibideau said national forests have several different fire restrictions at the moment. That’s because each forest can make its own adjustments depending on weather conditions and fuels. Generally, though, conditions have been fairly similar across the region: cool and wet.

“And we’re getting those more frequent periods of rain adding some moisture to those fuels that we’re seeing in our public lands,” said Thibideau, the service’s interim deputy fire information specialist. That, he said, is leading to fewer people recreating in the forests, and an easing of campfire restrictions for those who do venture into the woods, in developed campgrounds or for more dispersed recreation, like backpacking.

Thibedeau said wildfires are still active in many places throughout the region and recommends checking online for any restrictions for each forest people plan to visit.


“Really want to encourage folks to think about fire safety as we get closer to our winter months here,” he said. “It’s still a possibility to have human caused ignitions and that’s one last thing our firefighters need right now is a human cause ignition to worry about.”

A person stands by a campfire with a lake or river in the background.

Many national and state forests in Oregon and Washington have lifted campfire restrictions, but people should check to be sure before lighting their campsite kindling.

Charlie Riedel / AP

For state forests, Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon State Parks have lifted campfires bans east of Interstate 5. Those forests are the Santiam State Forest, Sun Pass State Forests, and the Gilchrist State Forest. But Spokesman Jason Cox also encourages the public to be aware of what other restrictions may be in place in individual parks.

“Just today, a lot of the northwest portion of the state exited fire season because of cooler conditions and precipitation allowed for that designation to change,” Cox said. “Much of the state still is in fire season and there’s definitely fire in that landscape still right now.”

Cox said best practices for putting out a campfire include drowning it in water, stirring the embers and repeating the process to make sure the fire is out before you leave the area.

National forests follow the Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) which is a four-leveled regulation system during fire season, ranging from a general shutdown (Level 4) to the least restrictive (Level 1) once the late-fall rains arrive and fire season is over. You can click the following links to find out what the latest precaution level is for national forests in Oregon and southwestern Washington: