As fire season begins, the San Bernardino National Forest implemented seasonal fire restrictions effective Monday, June 29.
One of the restrictions, “No wood or charcoal fires anywhere on the San Bernardino National Forest,” has not been necessary since 2003, according to John Miller, SBNF public affairs officer.
“This was added because of the drought,” he stated. “Some of the conditions we saw at the Lake Fire included rapid consumption of fuels, a very fast rate of spread and vegetation burning that normally does not burn so quickly.”
Effective Monday, June 29, visitors to the SBNF have to obey six fire restrictions:
• No wood or charcoal fires anywhere on the SBNF.
• Individuals with a valid California Campfire Permit may use a propane or gas cooking stove.
• Fireworks are always prohibited on the SBNF.
• 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 permitted only within enclosed buildings or vehicles.
• Recreational shooting is limited to Public Shooting Ranges operated under special use permit only, except those engaged in legal hunting.
The U.S. Forest Service will be aggressively citing those who do not comply with the posted restrictions. Violation of these prohibitions is subject to punishment by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than six months or both, as Class B misdemeanors under federal law. Persons may also be responsible for resource damage, suppression costs and any injuries that occur if they are found liable for causing a wildfire.
“As California goes into our fourth year of drought, the forest has felt the effects with lower-than-normal winter snow and rainfall making the forest more susceptible to fire,” said Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron.
The Forest Service’s Predictive Services unit forecasts higher-than-average temperatures over the coming months due to warmer nighttime temperatures and below-normal summertime monsoonal precipitation, causing increased potential for large fires within Southern California.
“Our number one priority on the forest is the safety of our visitors making the fire restrictions in place necessary,” said Fire Management Officer Jaime Gamboa. “The community and all forest users can help in the prevention of fires by being vigilant in reporting illegal and inappropriate behavior within our community throughout the year.”
Forest visitors are encouraged to “Know Before You Go” and call ahead to the local Ranger Station to check on location conditions and restrictions at the following offices: San Bernardino National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 602 S. Tippecanoe Ave., San Bernardino, 909-382-2600; Idyllwild Ranger Station, 54270 Pine Crest, Idyllwild, 909-382-2922; or Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center, 51-500 Highway 74, Palm Desert, 760-862-9984.