EASTERN SIERRA IS IN CAMPFIRE RESTRICTIONS AS OF TODAY, MAY 24; No Campfires Outside of Developed Campgrounds

Times Staff Report

The Inyo National Forest and Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office are implementing (Stage 1) fire restrictions effective on all Federal lands under their jurisdiction as of May 24, today.

This decision is based on very high fire danger, drought conditions coupled with extremely dry vegetation, an increase in human caused wildfires and the availability of firefighters for response, the federal agencies said in a recent news release.

These temporary, seasonal fire restrictions for the Eastern Sierra region are being implemented in close coordination with the Cal Fire San Bernardino/Inyo/Mono Unit and the Mono County Sheriff’s Office.

Until further notice, the following restrictions will be in effect:

No campfires, briquette barbeques, or stove fires (stove fires here are defined as a stove fire is one that uses wood for fuel - not stoves that use gas, or other sources of fuel - see more on this below) are allowed outside of fire rings or fire pits at designated developed recreation sites.

What is a developed campground and where are they? The list of designated campgrounds and recreation sites is available at all local visitor centers and is posted here at https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd913841.pdf for Inyo National Forest. for the BLM lands in the region, a list of campgrounds is available here at https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/docs/2021-05/Seasonal_Fire_Restr....

For backpackers and others wanting to use gas stoves or jellied or pressurized fuel stoves., they can use them outside of a developed campground, BUT these users must get a FREE "California Campfire Permit," which is available free of charge at U.S. Forest Service visitor centers, at BLM offices and at CalFire offices or online at www.readyforwildfire.org/permits/campfire-permit/. It only takes a few minutes to fill out these permits. These users are not exempt from other fire restriction rules and prohibitions (see the list of other fire restrictions below).

That said, there has been some confusion the definition of "stoves" so the Times asked for clarification. According to the Inyo National Forest on May 24, "a stove fire is one that uses wood for fuel" and these are now only allowed within developed campgrounds and within the developed fire ring or permit. "Backpackers sometimes use them and know them as zip stoves," the Inyo Forest said on Monday. "Those would only be allowed in designated sites,"
The other kind of stove is a stove which is fueled by gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel and those are okay outside of designated sites, as long as the user has a valid state campfire permit, the Inyo said.

"The way that's easy to think of it is if it has an on/off valve, it's okay outside of designated sites," the forest said in a news release. "If there's no on/off valve, not okay," said Inyo Forest spokeswoman Carol Underhill.

What else is prohibited?

• No Fireworks. It is prohibited to possess or discharge any fireworks, including “safe and sane” fireworks.

• No Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.

• No tools powered by internal combustion engines off designated roads or trails (such as chainsaws or lawn mowers).

• No motorized vehicles off designated roads or trails.

• No welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame.

Resorts, pack stations, recreation residences and other sites operated under special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service may be exempt from the special orders, as long as any fire activity is conducted in compliance with their permit and only at the site of their permit. These are listed here at https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd913842.pdf

Residents and visitors are reminded that simple steps can help prevent human-caused fires.

• Prevent vehicle related fires by maintaining proper tire pressure, ensuring adequate tire tread, and checking your brakes for overheating. Avoid traveling or parking on brush or grass. Ensure chains are not dragging while towing.

• Make sure your campfire is dead out! Drown it, stir it, feel it. If it’s not cool to the touch, it isn’t out.

• Use of exploding targets, such as Binary Explosive Targets, incendiary, steel jacketed or armor piercing ammunition and tracer rounds, while recreationally shooting is both a fire hazard and illegal. The use of steel-core ammunition, although legal, can greatly increase the chance of a wildfire.

• Hunters actively engaged in the legal pursuit and take of game and non-game species must have a valid California hunting license and abide by California laws and regulations.
Motorcycles, ATV’s and chainsaws require an approved spark arrestor.

Anyone found guilty of violating a fire prevention order may be fined not more than $100,000 and/or face imprisonment for not more than 12 months. Restitution for total fire suppression and damage costs incurred may be borne by the trespasser.