I am a “flatlander” and frequent visitor to Idyllwild. On Aug. 12, 2018, I walked from a downtown restaurant to my friend’s home on the south end of town. I passed the billboard in front of the fire station that announced that the fire danger was “very high.”
A half-mile down the road I passed through the county campground. At 7:30 at night on a 76-degree evening. I witnessed nearly 30 campfires burning. (I believe there are 88 sites with fire rings).
I stood in the smoky campground and looked up at the burned trees and fire-retardant stained cliffs east of Idyllwild and wondered, “How can this be?”
I spoke to a homeowner just outside the park who stated that after the Cranston Fire, he no longer sells bundles of wood to visitors as he “does not want to be the person who sells the log that burns down Idyllwild.” Yet 100 yards down the street, county staff are selling firewood at the entrance gate.
All of the money that all of the campers bring to town could never measure up to the cost of even the smallest wildfire born in a crowded campground located smack-dab in the middle of Idyllwild. Common sense is just that ... it’s common.
I urge you to discuss the lack of a campground fire-ban with one another, the fire chief, county park rangers and your county board of supervisors. It would seem sensible to issue a ban on all wood and charcoal fires in state, Forest Service and county parks when the fire danger is above “moderate.”
It can actually be quite nice to enjoy the dark, star-filled skies in a smoke-free mountain campground. May Idyllwild remain beautiful, green, healthy and safe.