Saturday, June 1, 2013

King Range OPEN, Fire Safety, Volunteers

King Range National Conservation Area is OPEN to all public access as of May 31, after a two-week emergency closure.

BLM officials encourage King Range visitors to pay attention to their surroundings and to report anything suspicious to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, (707)445-7251 or to the department's Tip Line, (707)268-2539.

Additionally, as you recreate in the King Range please keep fire safety in mind. Campfires are still permitted at this time but most likely within the next month or so we will go into campfire restrictions as conditions/vegetation become drier. I will post to this blog when the restriction goes into place and you can always call our office to check (707-986-5400).

Two sources of fire to be careful with:

1. Campfires:

Before you have a campfire (if campfires are permitted at the time of your trip):

Assess the scene and decide if it is safe. Is it windy? Are there dry grasses or piles of driftwood near-by? If so, it is a good idea to not have a campfire that night or find a safer location.

If the scene is safe, be sure to always have someone present to watch over/tend the fire and have plenty of water nearby to extinguish any rogue flames.

Keep the fire small by using only dead and down wood no bigger around than your wrist and no longer than the diameter of your fire ring (this doesn’t mean build a huge ring). This will help keep everything contained and manageable. This helps contain the fire in the ring, helps to keep the campsites clean and reduces fire danger. Larger pieces of wood tend to spread ash outside of the ring and break down its perimeter. In turn, this leads to an eye sore for other visitors and encourages them to build another fire ring - multiplying the impacts.

When you are done with the fire put it out using the soak and stir method: Soak with lots of water, stir around the mess and make sure everything is cool to the touch.

The above picture is an example of a fire ring that is too big and the burning of fuel that is too big. How does this look to you? 

2. Stoves:

There have been numerous fires in the past several years due to camp stoves, usually in the priming stage. Anytime you use a stove be sure it is in a safe location away from dry fuels. In the instructions for the Whisperlite stove Mountain Safety Research says to, “keep combustables 4 feet away from all sides.” More than 4 feet would be a good idea, especially in the extremely dry and windy conditions of the Lost Coast.

This past February there was a very good story in the NorthCoast Journal written by a backpacker who accidentally started a fire on the Lost Coast. The article is well written, eye-opening and very educational. Here is an excerpt:

“Right then, a gust of wind hit, and this ball of flame took on a life of its own, jumping maybe 10 feet to my right and landing on a steep bank of dry grass. In seconds, the entire hillside was a crackling wall of fire. And that's all it took. It was out of control.”

You should take the time to read it. 

Volunteers in the King Range NCA:

I would like to thank the volunteers who spent a week of their free time performing trail maintenance in the King Range. They made a huge commitment of time and energy to give back to America’s public lands and we all (myself and the King Range staff, everyone that recreates here and all members of the public even if they never set foot here) give them a round of applause.

Your Wilderness Ranger, 
Paul Sever
707-986-5400 (main line)

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