Umatilla National Forest officials ask hunters and forest visitors to use caution, plan ahead and know the weather and forest conditions before heading out into the woods. The Forest has already received snow in higher elevations this fall, and snow storms can often bring wind, snow, and rain that can substantially impact road and trail conditions, causing hazards and obstructions in roadways.

Fall weather can be unpredictable and is a busy time of year on the Umatilla National Forest. Hunting is a primary activity during this time, increasing the number of visitors in the Forest. Prior to heading to the woods, forest officials encourage the public to always contact your local district office, always check the weather, have a planned route and ensure that the area is accessible by knowing what closures or restrictions are in place. Whenever possible, travel in pairs. Always bring extra clothing, food and water, and make sure that someone knows where you are going, that they also have your planned route, and when you will be returning from your trip. Carry a map and don’t rely on your cell phone as many areas on the Forest don’t have service.

The Forest has implemented prescribed burning activities this fall and forest visitors should also be cautious when entering a recently burned area and be aware of increased hazards, particularly snags (which are recently burned or dead trees). Forest officials ask that visitors do not camp or hang out in a burned area. Dead or dying trees that remain standing after a fire are unstable, especially in high winds. Loose rocks and logs can be present in a burned area and are unpredictable, creating a falling a hazard. Additionally, burned vegetation can also contribute to landslides, mudslides and erosion when rain occurs. The ground in a burned area can also be unstable, due to burned-out roots beneath the surface. After soils and vegetation have been charred, rainfall that would normally be absorbed could run off extremely quickly.

Some roads may be seasonally closed due to wildlife or other resource concerns. Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) display the open and seasonally open road system on the Umatilla National Forest. MVUMs are free and can be picked up at any Umatilla National Forest office or downloaded from the forest website. Motorized cross-country travel is prohibited under the forest’s travel management plan.

“We encourage forest users to responsibly enjoy their National Forest roads and trails, including planning ahead for a trip to the woods. Responsible use will not only avoid damage of the resources, but also ensure forest visitors have an enjoyable and safe experience,” said Eric Watrud, Umatilla National Forest Supervisor.

The Umatilla National Forest wants all forest visitors to have a positive and safe experience while recreating on their public lands. For more information on current forest conditions, please contact the Umatilla National Forest at (541) 278-3716 or online at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/umatilla