Forest Service lifts fire restrictions

With recent rain across the southland, forest officials on the San Bernardino National Forest reduced fire restrictions effective today and have begun winter burning projects.

“While campfires and recreational shooting are being allowed in portions of the forest, we are not completely out of wildfire danger yet, and ask the public to always exercise caution and call ahead to check conditions,” said San Bernardino National Forest Fire Management Officer Shawna Legarza. “The change in the weather also has allowed us to begin our winter burning program, which is one of our tools to help reduce the wildfire threat in local communities.”

Fire Restrictions
Under the reduced fire restrictions, visitors may have wood and charcoal fires in agency-provided campfire rings at campgrounds, picnic areas and yellow post sites. Recreational target shooting is permitted within designated sites in the Big Bear area and permitted areas on the San Jacinto Ranger District.

Current fire restriction and guidelines in effect on the San Bernardino National Forest are as follows:

  • Wood and charcoal campfires are allowed only in developed campgrounds, picnic areas and Yellow Post campsites within agency-provided fire rings or designated stoves.
  • Campfire permits are required for propane and gas stoves and lanterns used outside of developed recreation sites.
  • Recreational shooting is limited to designated sites and public shooting ranges operated under special use permit only, except those engaged in legal hunting.
  • The 1N09 Recreational Shooting area remains closed.
  • An approved spark arrester is required for any internal combustion engine operated on designated forest routes. These include chainsaws, generators, motorcycles, and off-highway vehicles.
  • Smoking is limited to enclosed vehicles, developed recreation sites and areas cleared of vegetation, three feet in diameter.
  • Fireworks are always prohibited on the San Bernardino National Forest. Tracer, armor piercing, steel core, and Teflon ammunitions are also prohibited, as is discharging a firearm at any exploding target.

Winter Burning Projects
As part of a continuing effort to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire and improve forest health, the San Bernardino National Forest has started this season’s prescribed burning program. The prescribed fire program will continue through the winter months as weather and conditions permit.

The ignition of all prescribed burns is dependent on the availability of personnel and equipment, appropriate conditions, and in coordination with the National Weather Service and South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) before and during prescribed burns in order to manage smoke production and minimize impacts as much as possible.

These fuels management activities are conducted under the Healthy Forest Initiative, to increase protection of private property and communities adjacent to Forest Service lands.

The San Jacinto Ranger District Fire staff will begin conducting pile burning at various locations across the District. These efforts will continue through early spring.

The favorable change in weather now provides opportunities to resume pile burning activities on hazardous fuels reduction projects within the forest. Smoke from the burn pile activities may be visible, as burns can be conducted as stand-alone projects or in conjunction with other treatment methods, including mechanical removal of vegetation.

If you have any questions or concerns about work or burns within the San Jacinto District, please contact:

Idyllwild Ranger Station (909)-382-2922

Chris Fogle, battalion chief 659-5970

Fred Espinoza, battalion chief 659-0293

Riverside County Fire lifts restrictions
Effective Monday, Nov. 21, CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Chief John R. Hawkins rescinded the burning suspension in Riverside County. Burning is now allowed within normal Department and AQMD regulations.

More information on County Ordinance 787.6 regarding open burning can be found on the website.

In addition, restricted entry into public areas designated “Hazardous Fire Closure Areas” in Riverside County has also been rescinded. These areas include:

  • Avery Canyon (Gibbel Road, east of State Street in Hemet)
  • North Mountain and Indian Canyon (San Jacinto area)
  • Whitewater Canyon (Cabazon, north of Palm Springs)
  • Nuevo/Lakeview (east of Menifee Road and San Jacinto Avenue)
  • Reinhardt Canyon (North of Highway 74 and California Avenue in Hemet)
  • Ramona Bowl and Bautista Canyon (southeast Hemet)
  • Availability of contract aircraft at Hemet-Ryan Air Base

On Nov. 21, fixed-wing aircraft at Ryan Air Attack Base will be off-contract; however, one water-dropping helicopter and one bulldozer will be available full-time.

Careful and constant evaluation of predicted weather, fuel moisture and potential fire conditions dictates the annual transition from summer to winter preparedness staffing.