United States Forest Service Says “Shut It Down” In The Umatilla National Forest
The Umatilla National Forest is usually a great getaway during this time of the year for us Tri-Citians but it looks like the United States Forest Service is shutting the forest down for now due to wildfire and other safety concerns.
We've got several fires already in the mountains and now forest officials are shutting down the Umatilla National Forest effective immediately.
Why Is The Umatilla National Forest Closed?
In a press release from the USFS, hot and dry conditions have challenged firefighters in suppression efforts battling the Lick Creek and Green Ridge Fires on the Pomeroy Ranger District.
Additionally, on July 15 the Elbow Creek Fire emerged on the Walla Walla Ranger District, rapidly growing and threatening nearby communities. Overnight, humidity levels have remained extremely low, allowing fires to spread actively.
Do Wildfires Have Anything To Do With The Closure Of The Umatilla National Forest?
We now have three active large wildfires on the Umatilla National Forest, compounded by multiple active large wildfires burning across the region, firefighting resources are stretched.
What Does Closing The Umatilla National Forest Mean To Me?
A full Forest closure means that the public is prohibited from entering any part of Umatilla National Forest at any time, including National Forest lands, roads, trails, and recreational facilities. Access on the county, state or federal roadways will still be open.
What If I'm Already Camping In The Forest?
Forest Service personnel will attempt to reach as many people as possible to begin vacating campsites and informing individuals who are camping in the Forest currently.
The public should cancel any plans for visiting the Umatilla National Forest for the next several weeks. This is a temporary closure and the Forest will continually assess conditions and lift the closure once the unprecedented conditions moderate.
Will I Be Fined If I Go Into A Closed Umatilla National Forest?
Violating closures and fire restrictions is a violation that carries a mandatory appearance in federal court, punishable as a Class B misdemeanor with a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or up to six months in prison, or both.
Heading on a camping trip or doing a day hike might've been on your weekend plans but those trips might have to wait a little longer with the closure of the forest. You can get more details on the closure here.