Dry weather prompts return of fire restrictions in Eldorado National Forest

Citing the extended forecast for dry weather and public concerns in the aftermath of the Butte fire, Eldorado National Forest officials announced that fire restrictions will go back into effect beginning Friday.

“This is a risk management decision,” Forest Supervisor Laurence Crabtree said in a written statement. “More back country use during hunting season means more campfires. It only takes one irresponsible person to start a destructive wildfire.”

The fire restrictions pertain to recreational uses but will not affect the forest’s prescribed fire program. Prescribed fire projects will be carried out when weather and air quality are favorable.

“Prescribed fires are closely watched,” Crabtree said. “There’s a big difference between an abandoned campfire in a remote area and controlled prescribed fire operations with engines, dozers and water tenders on hand.”

The 249-acre Lost Horse prescribed fire took place Wednesday near Lumberyard in the Amador Ranger District, and the Iron Trap prescribed fire along Mormon Emigrant Trail is planned this week in the Placerville Ranger District, according to a U.S. Forest Service news release. Officials said motorists on Highway 50 or Highway 88 and people living in or visiting the area may see or smell smoke from these projects but should not be alarmed. Prescribed fires are part of an effort to prevent destructive wildfires.

Campfires will be allowed in some developed recreation sites. These sites area listed in the Forest Order, which will be posted on the Eldorado National Forest website, www.fs.usda.gov/eldorado. For more information on camping and other recreational opportunities in the forest, call 530-622-5061.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy