With hunting seasons already open and more opening soon on the Kenai Peninsula, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game is encouraging hunters to be aware of fire conditions in the Swan Lake fire area (Unit 15A) and the Caribou Lake fire area (Unit 15C).
ADF&G has not issued any emergency orders closing hunting opportunities on the Kenai Peninsula; however, hunters in Unit 15A should be aware of emergency area land closure orders from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service for portions of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and the Chugach National Forest- Seward Ranger District, along with potential highway closures or long delays which may impact travel to other areas of the Kenai Peninsula. There are no land closures in Unit 15C associated with the Caribou Lake fire, but hunters should give fire crews plenty of space.
In addition to concerns that firefighting crews could be working close to hunters seeking moose and other big game, hunters may face logistical challenges in the form of road closures due to fire activity, poor visibility or air quality from smoke, downed trees, or getting caught in the paths of rapidly moving fires. In areas that have already burned, ash pits can form and stay hot under the surface where trees have burned down to the roots and may be hard to see. Stepping into an ash pit can cause serious burns. Hunters need to be aware that trucks and trailers left near fire perimeters could impede firefighting activity or even become vulnerable to fire.
When in camp, hunters should be aware that burn bans are also in effect across the Kenai Peninsula borough because of the wildfire danger and active fires in the area. All burning, including campfires and the use of charcoal grills, is currently prohibited, including campfires in established fire pits or rings in designated campgrounds.
For up to date information, maps and fire updates for the Swan Lake and Caribou Lake fires, hunters should visit the following websites:
• InciWeb- Incident Information System: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/
• InciWeb- Chugach National Forest Special Closure Order Map (as of August 28, 2019): https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/map/6387/1/95360
• Kenai Peninsula Borough Joint Information Center: http://kpboem.blogspot.com/
• Alaska DOT Traveler 511 Info: http://511.alaska.gov/alaska511/mappingcomponent
• Alaska Wildland Fire Information: https://akfireinfo.com/
• Kenai National Wildlife Refuge closures: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/kenai/
• Chugach National Forest closures: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/chugach/alerts-notices
Even while hunting well away from active wildfires this hunting season, hunters are asked to take extra precautions to see that new fires aren’t ignited. For information on fire safety, visit: https://www.alaskacenters.gov/trip-planning/stewardship/safety/fire-safety