MOUNTAIN AREA – Sierra National Forest (SNF) officials issued an order Friday banning campfires outside of developed recreational sites. The campfire restrictions are meant “to protect the health and safety of employees and communities,” said a statement released this afternoon by the agency.
The restrictions are “effective immediately and until further notice,” the release stated.
“Outside of developed recreation sites and certain permitted facilities, igniting, building, maintaining or using a fire on the SNF and national forests in California will be prohibited.”
Forest Service officials say they are taking this “necessary” step to ensure that firefighters are available to safely respond and manage incidents.
“With the above-normal fire season projected in much of California — and the combined potential for wildfires and smoke to impact communities and firefighters — we need to reduce or eliminate this large ignition source and protect our firefighting resources,” the agency said.
“Ninety-five percent of wildfires in California are human-caused. Many of these wildfires occur close to roadways, communities and recreational areas, posing considerable threat to public safety,” said Dean A. Gould, SNF supervisor. “These restrictions and the public’s efforts to prevent human-caused fires is always important, but this year especially presents additional challenges for fire response. Please help us keep our firefighters, forest and local communities safe by reducing as many fire responses as possible.”
Forest visitors will still be able to use pressurized liquid or gas devices (stoves, grills or lanterns) with shut-off valves, as long as they are used in an area at least three feet from any flammable materials.
SNF is basing this decision on increased fire danger, local fire activity and the availability of firefighters for response.
Under Forest Order No. 05-15-00-20-04 — effective May 29 through November 30, 2020 or until rescinded — the following restrictions will be in effect:
1. Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire except within a designated recreation site, listed in Exhibit A and all Wilderness Areas of the Sierra National Forest (Ansel Adams, John Muir, Kaiser, Dinkey Lakes and Monarch).
2. No campfires, briquette barbeques, or stove fires are allowed outside of designated developed recreation sites and specifically posted campsites or areas. However, for now, campgrounds are closed on the forest.
3. Persons with a valid California Campfire Permit are not exempt from the prohibitions listed above. However, persons with a valid California Campfire Permit may use a portable campfire pit, stove or lantern that uses gas, kerosene, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel, with a shut-off valve, in an area at least three feet from any flammable materials.
4. No smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
5. No fireworks. It is prohibited to possess or discharge any fireworks, including “safe and sane” fireworks.
As of today, the following SNF day-use recreation areas on the Bass Lake Ranger District have met the guidelines of the CDC, and state and local agencies for opening:
- Wishon Boating Site
- The Falls Picnic Site
- Lakeside Picnic Site
- Rocky Point Picnic Site
- Denver Church Picnic Site
- Little Denver Picnic Site
- Pine Slope Picnic Site
- Willow Cove Picnic Area
Resorts, pack stations, recreation residences and other sites operated under special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service may be exempt from the special orders as long as any fire activity is conducted in compliance with their permit.
Fire crews regularly respond to vehicle fires along Highways 41, 49, 140 and 168 during the summer season and both residents and visitors are reminded that additional simple steps can help prevent human-caused fires.
- Motorists can help prevent vehicle related fires by maintaining proper tire pressure, ensuring adequate tire tread, and checking brakes for overheating. Also avoid traveling or parking on brush or grass and ensure chains are not dragging while towing.
- Use of exploding targets, such as Binary Explosive Targets, and tracer rounds, while recreationally shooting is both a fire hazard and illegal. The use of steel-core ammunition, although legal, can greatly increase the chance of a wildfire.
- All motorcycles, ATV’s and chainsaws require an approved spark arrestor.