Monday, 13 August 2012 20:48

Forest Service expands fire restrictions in El Dorado Forest

Amador County – The U.S. Forest Service last week expanded fire restrictions to cover the entire El Dorado National Forest beginning Aug. 10 due to hotter and drier conditions.

Wood fires and charcoal barbeques are restricted to designated recreation sites, and other fire-related activities will be prohibited until forest and weather conditions change significantly. Designated areas include campgrounds and picnic areas as listed on the El Dorado Forest website.

Forest Supervisor Kathy Hardy implemented fire restrictions on the western side of the El Dorado National Forest earlier last week and expanded the restrictions to include the entire forest starting Aug. 10. Hardy said recent small fires at higher elevations demonstrated that vegetation has dried very quickly and conditions are expected to continue drying.

A list of the Designated Exempted Recreation Sites is on the Eldorado National Forest website.

Acts prohibited within the El Dorado National Forest through the end of the 2012 fire season include building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire, except within the stoves and fire rings provided in Designated Recreation Sites. Smoking is also prohibited, except within an enclosed vehicle or building or at a Developed Recreation Site β€œor while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.”

Welding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with an open flame is also prohibited, as is operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed and maintained in effective working order.

People exempt from the order are people with a permit from the Forest Service specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission; people with a special use permit for a recreation residence, provided that they have a valid California Campfire Permit, and comply with the terms of the permit.

People with a valid California Campfire permit are NOT exempt from the prohibitions, but they may use a portable stove or lantern that uses gas, kerosene, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel. The prohibitions carry penalties that can include fines and imprisonment. Violation are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or six months in jail, or both. Forest Service fire prevention personnel will patrol the Forest daily looking for unsafe situations.

Story by Jim Reece.