Citing increased risks with rising temperatures, Forest Service officials announced that fire restrictions in the Eldorado National Forest will be extended to the entire forest beginning Monday.
Wood fires and charcoal barbecues will be restricted to designated recreation sites, and other fire-related activities will be prohibited until there are significant changes in forest and weather conditions, according to a Forest Service news release.
"Despite this recent storm, the predicted hot temperatures will dry the vegetation in the forest out quickly," Jay Kurth, fire management officer, said in a written statement. "Visitors should also know that all types of fireworks are illegal in the National Forest."
A list of designated exempted recreation sites in the Eldorado National Forest is available on the website at www.fs.usda.gov/eldorado
Activities that will be prohibited beginning Monday and through the end of the 2013 fire season:
• Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire, except within the stoves and fire rings in designated recreation sites.
• Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
• Welding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with an open flame.
• Operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed and maintained in effective working order.
Exempt from the order are:
• Individuals with a permit from the Forest Service specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited acts or omissions.
• Individuals with a special use permit from the Forest Service for a recreation residence in a recreation residence tract. They may build, maintain, attend or use an elevated charcoal or propane grill for cooking at the residence, provided they have a valid California campfire permit and comply with the terms of the permit.
• Individuals with a valid California campfire permit are not exempt from the listed prohibitions, but they may use a portable stove or lantern that uses gas, kerosene, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel.
Campfire permits, which are still required for gas fires, can be obtained at any U.S. Forest Service, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Bureau of Land Management office.
The prohibitions carry penalties that can include fines and imprisonment. Violations are punishable by a fine of as much as $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, imprisonment of up to six months, or both.
Officials said Forest Service fire prevention personnel will patrol the forest daily looking for unsafe situations.
Motor vehicle use in the Eldorado National Forest is allowed only on the designated routes displayed on the free Motor Vehicle Use Map available at all Eldorado National Forest offices. Visitors planning to camp outside of developed campgrounds must park their vehicle on or within one vehicle length of a system route. Motorists are advised to check ahead of time to make sure the route they plan to travel is open.
For more information on recreation opportunities, route closures and fire restrictions in the Eldorado National Forest, see the website at www.fs.usda.gov/eldorado.
Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-1904.