Los Padres National Forest officials raised fire restrictions throughout the forest effective today, citing an increasing potential for wildland fire.
Restrictions affect the use of campfires, stoves, smoking materials and internal combustion engines, and will remain in effect until the end of fire season in late autumn, Los Padres National Forest supervisor’s office announced Friday.
No open fires, campfires or charcoal fires will be permitted outside of developed recreation sites or one of the forest’s 72 designated campfire use sites, even with a valid California campfire permit.
Lanterns and portable stoves using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel will be permitted, but only with a valid California campfire permit, which are available free-of-charge on the Los Padres National Forest website and at any U.S. Forest Service office.
Forest visitors must clear all flammable material for 5 feet in all directions from their camp stove, have a shovel available, and ensure that a responsible person attends the stove at all times during use.
Smoking is prohibited except within an enclosed vehicle, building, or a designated campfire use site, or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
Internal combustion engines may be operated only on roads or designated trails. This restriction is in effect year-round. Please make sure your engine is tuned, operating properly and has an approved spark arrester.
Fireworks – even the “safe and sane” variety – are not permitted at any time or in any location within the forest.
Fire restrictions like these are lowered and raised based on moisture levels in the park’s vegetation.
“When it gets below a threshold, that’s when we talk about going into fire restrictions,” said Los Padres National Forest spokesman Andrew Madsen
Fire restrictions are typically implemented around this time of year. Last year restrictions were put into effect July 3, Mr. Madsen told the News-Press.
The fact that the moisture level took so long to lower means the area had a wetter than normal winter. During the drought, restrictions were usually enforced in May.
If moisture levels continue to fall, park officials may increase restrictions to prohibit all open fires in the forest. Heightened restrictions have been enforced in three of the last six years, typically in August, said Mr. Madsen.
The restrictions should not greatly affect campers’ Fourth of July plans. With rising summer temperatures, and new devices, there’s often no need for a campfire, Mr. Madsen said.
“We just ask that people are mindful of conditions. If winds pick up, it’s hot, the sun’s going down but it still feels like 90 degrees, those are conditions where it’s best not to have a campfire,” he said.
For a list of developed recreation sites and campfire use sites in Los Padres National Forest, or further information regarding fire-safe camping, visitwww.fs.usda.gov/lpnf or contact the nearest U.S. Forest Service district office.