The Los Padres National Forest announced Friday that the forest order prohibiting recreational shooting has been extended until June 30.
The extension is aimed at providing public safety due to increasingly high fire danger conditions in the extended weather forecast, as well as the potential for a wildfire that could be sparked by a shooting, Andrew Madsen, U.S. Forest Service spokesman, said in a news release.
Despite winter rainfall, live fuel moisture levels across the forest did not significantly recover and are currently just above the 60 percent critical threshold. The weather forecast indicates persistent, strong offshore wind events through April that could further reduce fuel moisture levels, officials said.
Long-range weather models have shown well-below normal precipitation and drier than average weather and elevated temperatures through the spring months. If the forecasts are accurate, these conditions will allow fire to burn readily and remain present in the larger dead and downed fuels in the landscape.
“Preventing accidental starts from recreational shooting under dry conditions is key to protecting life and property,” Mr. Madsen said. “Shooting ranges under permit by Los Padres National Forest monitor and implement preventative measures to avoid accidental starts.”
Under the forest order, discharging a firearm is prohibited except in the designated target ranges at the Winchester Canyon Gun Club and the Ojai Valley Gun Club. Hunters during open hunting season and those with valid hunting licenses are exempt from the order. Violators could be subject to a fine up to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for an organization, imprisonment for up to six months, or both.