The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) reminds outdoor recreationists to be extremely fire-wary this Labor Day weekend since about 85 percent of Washington wildfires are caused by people.
The last holiday weekend of summer also marks the start of popular hunting seasons and prompts even more people to head for Washington's tinder-dry woods and fields. Dove, forest grouse, rabbit, and early archery deer and elk seasons open September 1.
Washington residents who live west of the Cascades and are accustomed to cooler, wetter summer weather are asked to pay special attention when outdoors east of the mountains. The fire danger is extremely high in eastern Washington because of the long hot, dry summer. Even light rain forecast for this weekend will not make a difference in the driest areas.
At this time all hunting seasons remain open as scheduled and all WDFW lands are open to fishing, hunting, wildlife-watching and other outdoor recreation. But some private lands are closed and all public lands have use restrictions.
Campfires are only allowed in a few places. Most campgrounds allow the use of bottled gas or propane cook stoves. Check local restrictions.
Travel off developed or main road systems is not allowed. The heat from motor vehicle exhaust systems, including All TerrainVehicles (ATVs), can cause fires in dry grass. Watch for local parking and driving restrictions.
Use of chainsaws for woodcutting may be restricted to minimize chances of sparks igniting dry vegetation. Ask about restrictions when obtaining woodcutting permits.
Smokers may be restricted to campgrounds that allow fires in designated areas or inside vehicles with ashtrays.
Recreationists can obtain more information about access closures, public use restrictions, and fire prevention on the Internet at http://www.or.blm.gov/nwfire provided by the Northwest Fire Prevention Education Team.