As the seasonal fire danger rises, forest officials increased fire use restrictions on the San Bernardino National Forest in June.
The San Bernardino National Forest is preparing for one of the biggest recreation weekends of the year as forest visitors come to Big Bear to enjoy camping, hiking, mountain biking, fishing and a variety of other recreational activities during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Visitors are reminded that possession and use of fireworks within the boundaries of the national forest is prohibited by law at all times and is strictly enforced. Wood and charcoal fires are only permitted in designated fire rings and stoves in campgrounds and picnic grounds. Visitors camping in general forest areas can use a propane or gas cooking stove with a valid California Campfire Permit.
“I am encouraging our visitors to plan ahead and be fire-aware during their forest visit,” said Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron. “With the public’s help, we can make this a safe and enjoyable holiday.”
As California’s three year drought continues, the forest experienced below average winter snow and rainfall. During the spring, the area experienced several Santa Ana wind events along with warm, dry weather, leading to drier fuel conditions. The seasonal weather outlook predicts above normal temperatures and low humidity with the potential for large fires.
Most wildfires on the San Bernardino National Forest are human-caused and increased restrictions are designed to reduce wildland fires. Forest visitors are reminded to exercise caution and maintain a higher level of awareness with the increased fire risk.
“With the dry weather, we ask the public’s help to prevent destructive wildfires” Noiron said. “We want visitors to enjoy their public lands, but use common sense in the process.”
There are several professional fireworks displays near the San Bernardino National Forest throughout the holiday weekend, with the Big Bear Lake display on Friday, July 4, topping the list. Other shows include Pioneer Park in Lucerne Valley Thursday, July 3, and Lake Gregory Regional Park in Crestline Saturday, July 5.
Fire restrictions on the forest include:
• Wood and charcoal fires are permitted only in developed campgrounds and picnic grounds and within agency provided fire rings or camp stoves.
• An approved spark arrester is required for any internal combustion engine operated on designated forest routes. These include chainsaws, generators, motorcycles and off-highway vehicles.
• Smoking is limited to an enclosed vehicle or building, or within a Developed Recreation Site.
• Fireworks are always prohibited on the San Bernardino National Forest.
The US Forest Service will aggressively cite those who do not comply with the posted restrictions. Violation of these prohibitions is subject to punishment by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than six months or both. Persons may also be responsible for resource damage, suppression costs and any injuries that occur if they are found liable.
Forest visitors are encouraged to call ahead to the local ranger station to check on location conditions and restrictions. For the Big Bear area, contact or stop by the Big Bear Discovery Center, 41397 North Shore Drive, Fawnskin, 909-382-2790 or the Mill Creek Visitor Center, 34701 Mill Creek Road, Mentone, 909-382-2881.