Burn barrels will grow cold Sunday as the start of the summer wildfire season begins in Jackson and Josephine counties, triggering restrictions on such things as open burning.
Rogue Valley residents who have waited out a wet spring to burn their woody debris can do so through Saturday outside of most city limits, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry.
Despite a wet spring, warm temperatures have dried out grasses on lower-elevation lands that are protect by ODF — private, county, state and federal Bureau of Land Management lands — according to ODF Protection Supervisor Bill Smith.
The heavy spring snowpack in Southern Oregon remains at higher elevation sites, which are predominantly Forest Service lands and not part of the ODF fire-season rules.
Beginning Sunday, the fire-danger level will be listed as "Low" and the industrial fire-precaution level will be 1.
Along with a ban on open burning, restrictions beginning Sunday include bans on the use of tracer ammunition and exploding targets for shooters as well as bans on all fireworks.
Last year's fire season extended from June 3 to Oct. 13, lasting 133 days, according to ODF. There were 209 fires on state-protected lands charring 726 acres, ODF statistics show. Only six of those low-elevation fires were started by lightning; the remainder were human-caused.
The 10-year average for the Medford District is 230 fires burning more than 5,600 acres per fire season, ODF records show.
— Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.