Thank you Coos Forest Protection Association for putting a damper — literally — on the eagerly-awaited summer tradition of having campfires on Brookings and Harbor beaches.

Starting last Monday, the agency banned fires on all beaches from Rainbow Rock, north of Brookings, to the Oregon/California state line. This includes wide, sparsely vegetated beaches such as Sporthaven, Lone Ranch and Winchuck River.

While we appreciate the agency’s concerns for our safety, we think the ban is over reaching. Perhaps it’s a knee-jerk reaction to a seaside fire near Brookings’ Dawson Tract last week. Local fire officials believe it was started by illegal fireworks, not a beach fire.

We’d like to point out that the current fire danger for Curry County is moderate, not high. There are no major wildfires taxing fire-fighting resources. Also, there are established rules meant to reduce the risk of beach fires:

•Use small pieces of wood only. Large logs are prohibited.

•The fire must be below the vegetation line and the high tide line, away from beach grass and piles of driftwood.

•Extinguish the fire with water. Don’t just bury it, as this will allow the fire to remain hot and smolder for hours. It could also burn someone.

A majority of people who enjoy beach fires follow these rules, and a complete ban on the activity seems unfair to those who act responsibly.

We suggest a compromise.

When fire season reaches its peak, instead of expecting the worst and banning campfires at all beaches, implement bans at specific beaches where the hazards — dry grass, driftwood piles and heavy vegetation — are a threat to homes and other structures.

At beaches where fires are allowed, post signs explaining the rules.

17805365