WWNF Phase C Public Use Restrictions
Due to continued hot temperatures, lack of moisture, and extreme fire danger, Phace C public use restrictions went into effect Saturday, September 12. With concerns for public safety and the increased potential for human-caused wildfires, officials remind forest visitors to use extreme caution when visiting the forest; under current conditions, even a small spark can rapidly become a wildfire.
Phase C restrictions include:
Campfires are prohibited. Liquid and bottled gas stoves only.
No internal combustion engine operations, including chainsaws, except for motorized vehicles
Electrical generators may operate only under the following conditions: in the center of a cleared area at least 10 feet in diameter; fully contained within a pickup truck bed empty of all flammable material; or when factory installed in an RV with the exhaust located in the center of a cleared area at least 10 feet in diameter.
No off-road/off-trail vehicle travel or travel on roads not cleared of standing grass or other flammable material.
Smoking allowed only in enclosed vehicles and buildings, developed recreation sites, or cleared areas.
To report a wildfire, call 911, or contact Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch at 541-963-7171 or John Day Interagency Dispatch Center at 541-575-1321.
With high daytime temperatures and tinder-dry forest fuels, conditions are prime for human-caused forest fires. Please be extremely careful when out in the forest. To learn more, visit the Forest Service website, the Blue Mountain Fire Info blog, or the Blue Mountain Interagency Fire Center website.
Idaho Power Campgrounds
Spring and Summer camping fees are now in effect at Idaho Power parks in Hells Canyon. Fees range from $10 for a tent space to $16 for an RV space. Discounts are available for seniors and veterans.
For a full rate schedule, maps, and other park information, visit the Parks link at the Idaho Power website.
You may now make in-season campsite reservations on-line as much as nine months in advance. There is a $10 fee for reserving on-line, and they may be made for visits scheduled between the first Friday in April through the last Sunday in October. A phone reservation option is also available for $15; call 1-844-472-7275.
Smaller overnight campsites are not included in the reservation system. In Hells Canyon, Carter's Landing and Moonshine Mine remain available on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you are going to spend time on the water, the Baker County Sheriff's Office would like to remind boat operators and passengers to pack extra supplies and be prepared for water-related outings. Weather can change drastically in a matter of hours, and water rescues are especially dangerous at night due to decreased visibility and often high winds on the reservoir.
Be sure to make friends and family members aware of your plans, including departure times and specific travel routes or destinations. This will significantly decrease rescue time if something happens. Plan ahead, be prepared, and enjoy your boating activities.
New Antlerless Elk Damage Tags
ODFW has announced that a new general season tag will replace 19 controlled hunts and the need to obtain specific landowner damage tags from local ODFW offices. Hunters will need permission to hunt on private land to use this tag, because the majority of land included is privately owned. No application is necessary, and this general season tag is available as long as the hunter has not purchased another tag, such as archery. The season runs August 1 to November 30 in Pine and Eagle valleys. For more information, call the ODFW Baker City Field Office at 541-523-5832, or visit the website.
ODFW Electronic Licensing System
ODFW launched a new electronic licensing system on December 1, 2018, with the sale of 2019 licenses and tags. The system allows hunters and anglers to carry their documents electronically on their smart phone or tablet and tag fish and wildlife with a mobile app that will even work off-line. An FAQ about the system is available at the ODFW website.
Branch Library Hours
Fri 9am-12pm, 1-4pm
Mon 10-11:40am, 12-1:40pm
Tue 8-9:40am, 10-11:40am
Fri 10-11:40am, 12-1:40pm
Sat 9-10am, 10:20-11:40am
Brownlee Reservoir Update
As of September 23, Brownlee Reservoir is at 2049 feet, 28 feet below full pool level of 2077. This depth allows access to all area boat ramps except Spring Recreation and Steck Park.
Later in the month, the reservoir will be drawn down in preparation for fall Chinook operations, which will begin in mid-October. Initial forecasts in dictate an additional drawdown of five to 10 feet, but the plan will be updated as fall forecasts are refined. The fall Chinook operations are designed to provide flat flows of approximately 8,500 cubic feet per second below Hells Canyon Dam from mid-October to early December, providing stable flows to benefit spawning fall Chinook salmon.
For current reservoir elevation information, check the Idaho Power website.
Woodhead Fire Update
Highway 71 is now fully open to the public, as are side roads. The fire area itself remains closed for safety. The Council-Cuprum road is also open again, though this could change dependent on fire activity and weather conditions. Containment is currently 45% with 93,300 acres burned.
Travelers should use great caution, watch for falling rocks and equipment working adjacent to the roadway, and expect delays.
Current Park Status
Baker County's Hewitt and Holcomb parks on the Brownlee Reservoir are open, as are all Idaho Power Company campgrounds, parks, boat ramps, and recreation access sites. Restroom buildings and showers at campgrounds remain closed; portable toilets are in place and are serviced regularly. Idaho Power asks all visitors to follow social-distancing guidelines, including when they interact with Idaho Power staff. Demand for campsites has been high, so please visit the Idaho Power website to reserve a spot before heading out.
Idaho DEQ has issued a health advisory for waters near the Big Bar camping area on Hells Canyon Reservoir and the Woodhead Park area in Brownlee Reservoir. Recent samples indicate high concentrations of toxin-producing cyanobacteria, commonly known as a toxic algae bloom, which can be harmful to people, pets, and livestock. Visitors are urged to use caution when recreating in or near the reservoirs: avoid swimming, wading, or other activities. Keep children, pets, and livestock from the water. Do not drink or cook with water containing a bloom. Boiling and filtering the water can actually increase risk. Wash hands thoroughly after handling fish caught in water experiencing a bloom. Any fish caught should be cleaned and washed thoroughly in uncontaminated water, and any internal organs disposed of before consumption. For more information, visit the Idaho DEQ website.
Eagle Bar Access Restricted
Public access to the Eagle Bar recreation site will be limited beginning July 15 through the spring of 2021. Idaho Power will be using the southern half of the area as a construction staging area for upgrades being performed on the Hells Canyon Dam hydroelectric plant. The boat launch will remain open and dispersed camping will still be allowed within a reduced area. Visit the Idaho Power website for updates and further information.
Kirkwood Creek Bridge Closure
Hikers need to be aware that the bridge located at the Kirkwood Historic Ranch about 5.5 miles south of the National Recreation Trail #102 trailhead at Upper Pittsburg Landing is closed until further notice. Decayed wood supports and undermined concrete abutments were found during a routine inspection last fall. A new bridge is in process, but will most likely be built after the 2020 field season.
An alternative crossing for hikers may be available at the footbridge near the mouth of the creek, approximately 300 feet downstream of the closed bridge. This is a small bridge, not suitable for stock use, and high water flows during the spring may submerge the deck at times.
For more information, contact the Forest Service offices in Joseph (541-426-5546) or Riggins (208-628-3916), or visit the website.