Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Campfires prohibited in some Washington state parks

Update August 15, 2014:
DNR to permit campfires on some state lands --
Burn ban adjusted on DNR-protected lands west of the Cascades
OLYMPIA – With recent rain and current weather models predicting more moderate conditions in western Washington, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is adjusting the current statewide burn ban. Recreational campfires will be permitted in established fire rings in official campgrounds on DNR-protected lands west of the Cascade crest, the agency announced today. Click here to read the bulletin. 

Washington State Parks news release, August 12, 2014:
Open fires and use of briquettes prohibited until further notice
to help prevent human-caused wildfires during hot, dry season

OLYMPIA – August 12, 2014 – Washington State Parks announced today that campfires in all state parks will be prohibited until further notice to help prevent human-caused wildfires during the hot, dry season on both sides of the Cascade Mountains.

The prohibition on campfires in state parks complies with the announcement Monday by Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which notified the public of a ban on all outdoor burning on lands protected by DNR, through Sept. 30. That agency has fire protection responsibility for all but a few state parks. Prohibiting open fires and campfires in all state parks is intended to minimize public confusion and cooperate in DNR’s effort to prevent wildfires.

DNR has said that significant demands are being placed upon fire suppression resources from regional and statewide firefighting efforts.

Campers in state parks will be allowed to use devices that allow for control of combustion, including:
  • Propane and liquid gas stoves appropriate for camping and backcountry use
  • Propane barbecue devices that do not use solid briquettes
  • Propane or pressurized white gas warming devices that have a shield or base
  • Lava rocks or lava logs may be used in propane grills and barbecues
  • Solid fuel citronella or other candles in a metal bucket or glass container 

Click here for wildfire danger and outdoor burning regulations in Washington state from the Department of Natural Resources.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thunderstorms and camping in mountainous areas: Do you know your lightning safety guidelines?

The summer camping season brings a lot of campers and RVers into the outdoors and especially to cool higher altitude destinations as the heat increases.

But you may have read recently in the news that two people were killed and others injured in the Rocky Mountain National Park from lightning strikes in areas above the treeline that are prone to afternoon thunderstorms.

If you plan to travel into mountainous areas this season, here are some tips and precautions you can take to insure your safety:

KNOW THE WEATHER: Bright summer days can turn stormy quickly, with lightning, wind, and even hail. Ask rangers about the weather patterns of the area you are visiting.

GET YOUR OUTSIDE ADVENTURES IN EARLY: Start your hike early in the day so you can return by noon. Hike to below treeline or to safe shelter before a storm strikes.

STAY ALERT: If you hear thunder or see lightning it is close enough to strike you. At a high altitude, when skies look threatening, a thunderstorm can develop right overhead.

IF YOU ARE ABOVE TREELINE: If a storm threatens, get inside your vehicle immediately, do not lean against the doors, and wait at least 30 minutes after a storm passes overhead. If you are away from a vehicle, move away from summits, isolated trees and rocks.

BELOW TREELINE: If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees. Stay away from tall, isolated trees or any tall objects.

WHAT SHELTERS ARE SAFE: Tents, trees, small caves, and picnic shelters are not safe. A vehicle or a larger, enclosed building are. Avoid water and any metal.

You can get more information on lightning safety from the National Weather Service.