Fire activity showed a significant decrease last weekend, with the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests citing “cooler, damper weather” in its announcement it will prepare no further fire updates “until activity or conditions change substantially.”
But the 2017 fire season continues.
In a news release last Thursday, Sept. 14, forest supervisor Cheryl Probert said that while the intensity of the fires has diminished, the fires are definitely not out. “It will take a significant amount of precipitation to end the fire season of 2017,” she said.
Fire closures are being evaluated daily with road, trail and area closures being rescinded or modified based on current and predicted weather and fire conditions. While three closures have been lifted, several others remain in place as early backcountry rifle season begins.
Closures associated with the Strychnine Fire near Harvard, the Pronghorn Fire east of Red River Hot Springs, and the Rattlesnake Point Fire in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness have all been lifted.
An area closure associated with the Hanover and Twin Lakes Fires was lifted Tuesday, Sept. 19. Forest Road 444 remains closed from its junction with Road 221 east to Square Mountain Lookout.
Visitors planning to visit either the Gospel-Hump or Selway-Bitterroot Wildernesses should consult local ranger stations prior to any outing. Closure orders remain in place for much of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, including all Wilderness lands within the Moose Creek Ranger District.
On non-wilderness lands, roads and trails on Coolwater Ridge and near Liz Butte remain closed, as does the extreme northeastern corner of the Forest east of Lolo Pass.
Visitors can expect to encounter fire traffic on some of the Forest’s major roads, and should drive with caution.
Individuals heading into areas with recent fire activity should be aware of hazards associated with fire. Burned areas devoid of vegetation are more susceptible to flooding and mudslides, even with what seem to be slight levels of precipitation.
Standing trees and snags can be unstable, breaking at any time, especially during winds or storms. Tree roots may have burned out under the ground, creating unexpected holes that may be obscured from hikers. Rocks and logs that are no longer supported by vegetation may give way unexpectedly, rolling downhill.
Visitors are advised to: obtain up-to-date information regarding fire activity from the local ranger station; be apprised of current and forecast weather conditions; locate camps away from burned trees; and know the hazards and be alert to their surroundings.
Find more information at any Forest Service office, or online at fs.usda.gov/nezperceclearwater, or through the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Facebook page, facebook.com/NPClwNFs.