Fire-related activities banned on Mid-Columbia refuges

Tri-City HeraldJuly 2, 2014 

Activities likely to start a fire have been banned on refuges in the Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Use of any fire, including charcoal briquettes and cooking stoves, is prohibited. Also banned are smoking outside of an enclosed vehicle and operation of any motor without an approved and working spark arrester. Fireworks are banned year-round.

The restriction covers the Hanford Reach National Monument and Columbia, Cold Springs, Conboy Lake, McKay Creek, McNary, Toppenish and Umatilla national wildlife refuges.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already responded to wildfires this year on the refuge complex, despite recent rains.

"This year's heavy fuel load, primarily from cheatgrass and other invasive plants, has created extremely dangerous conditions," said fire management officer Thomas Skinner. "As the vegetation dries out with the forecasted above-normal temperatures, we're going to have the right conditions for large, fast-moving fires that could be hard to control."

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