Aerial shot of Eagle Creek fire damage. (photo courtesy of State of Oregon)
Thursday, June 28, 2018
"We all have a role to play as responsible stewards for the Columbia Gorge," says Friends of the Columbia Gorge Conservation Director Michael Lang.
Contact: Burt Edwards, communications director | 971.634.0595 (office) | 703.861.8237 (cell) | firstname.lastname@example.org (email)
PORTLAND, OR – Last year, the illegal use of fireworks over the Labor Day holiday weekend ignited a devastating fire in the Eagle Creek area of the Columbia Gorge that grew to over 48,000 acres and remains smoldering in several hotspots today. According to recent research, Americans start more wildfires on July 4 than any other day.
In advance of the coming July 4 holiday weekend, Friends of the Columbia Gorge Conservation Director Michael Lang urged the public to celebrate responsibly in the Gorge:
"The Gorge is an incredible place to spend the 4th of July. But please leave your fireworks at home. Fireworks and forests just don't mix.
"Private fireworks are illegal on federal and state public lands. As we enter into fire season it's critical that all -- tourists, campers and day-hikers alike -- take extreme care and act as responsible stewards for our public lands. The Columbia Gorge is a national treasure and we all have a role to play in protecting it."
General Background Information
-- According to a 2017 study: "[O]ver 84% of the government-recorded wildfires were started by people from 1992 to 2012. … Americans start over twice as many wildfires on July 4th as any other summer day." Source: "Human-started wildfires expand the fire niche across the United States," PNAS February 27, 2017. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/02/21/1617394114
-- Oregon has had over 200 human-caused fires already over the course 2018 (as 6/17/18). Source: Oregon Dept of Forestry http://wildfireoregondeptofforestry.blogspot.com/
-- Information on active wildfires can be found at the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center and InciWeb -- the national incident information system:
Hiking Tips & Safety Information
-- Friends of the Columbia Gorge Web Hiking Guide
-- Ready, Set, GOrge! (Gorge Hiking Tips, Maps & More)
-- Tips for Hiking in Burned Areas from Trailkeepers of Oregon
-- Columbia Gorge Car Free Website
How Members of the Public Can Help
- Leave any fireworks, including sparklers, at home. Private fireworks are illegal on federal and state public lands. As an alternative, many towns will host local, public July 4th celebrations and firework shows. For more information see: http://gorgecurrent.com/ or https://www.pdxpipeline.com/columbia-gorge/.
- Avoid driving and parking in tall grass. When possible, consider car-free options to visit the Gorge.
- If you must smoke, always dispose of cigarette debris safely. Throwing cigarettes on the ground or in trash bins can be dangerous.
- If you see somebody not acting fire-safe, say something. If you spot a fire, get to a safe location and call 911.
- Build campfires only in designated areas and check local fire advisories first. For more on Gorge fire closures and restrictions see: https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/crgnsa/fire
- Attend campfires at all times, and put out the campfire to the point it is cool to the touch any time you leave the area.
- Watch for sparks from all recreational vehicles and portable gasoline-powered equipment.
- Plan your route ahead of time to avoid crowds.
- Bring what you need and research road, trail and weather conditions.
- Take steps to help protect the Gorge so that future visitors can enjoy it, too.
Social Media Suggestions
As we near the 4th of July holiday and enter peak wildfire season, Friends of the Columbia Gorge encourages members of the public to share their thoughts, experiences and photos about wildfire safety to keep the conversation going on social media: #FireSafe4th | #KeepTheGorgeGreen | #PreventWildfires |#ReadySetGorge | #ColumbiaRiverGorge
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Friends of the Columbia Gorge is a community-based, nonprofit organization with over 8,000 members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the scenic, natural, cultural and recreational resources of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Friends maintain an office in Portland, OR as well as in two Gorge towns -- Hood River, OR and Washougal, WA. Learn more: gorgefriends.org or follow-us: @GorgeFriends
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