Fire Restrictions come in different stages and become more prohibitive with each stage. Most forests begin by implementing a Stage I Restriction and if conditions worsen, Stage II is implemented. There is no "Stage III" when conditions worsen further. Instead, a forest closure is usually the next step which means the public is not allowed to enter the boundaries of the national forest due to the danger.
STAGE I RESTRICTIONS
What is Prohibited:
No building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire EXCEPT in Forest Service developed camp or picnic ground (those which are managed by a concessionaire -- this does not include dispersed camping throughout the forest).
No smoking unless in 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.
What is Allowed:
Petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns, or heating devices providing such devices meet the fire underwriter’s specification for safety
Shooting firearms IS allowed. Just make sure to follow normal federal rules: No shooting within a 150 yards of a campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area, residence or building; No shooting across a road, trail or body of water, or in any manner or place whereby any person property is exposed to injury or damage as a result of such discharge; No shooting in a cave.
Click here for a visual explanation of Stage I Restrictions!
STAGE I I RESTRICTIONS
What is Prohibited:
No building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire. This includes dispersed camping throughout the forest and also developed campgrounds and picnic areas.
No smoking unless in an enclosed vehicle or building.
No chainsaw use from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
No shooting or discharging a firearm unless engaged in a lawful hunt.
No welding or use of explosives (fireworks are NEVER permitted on national forest lands).
No using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order. (This does not include motor vehicles. This is aimed more at things such as chainsaws, weed-eaters, gas-powered landscaping tools and the like.)
What is Allowed:
Petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns, or heating devices providing such devices meet the fire underwriter’s specification for safety.
You may use a generator as long as you have cleared flammable material at least 3 feet around it or it is enclosed in your vehicle (such as the rear portion of an RV).
You may use a propane-fueled grill as long as you have... 1. Cleared flammable material at least 3 feet around it. 2. It is placed in an area that has no overhead flammable materials. 3. All it is doing is producing flame and can immediately be turned off and there is no element continuing to burn after it has been turned off.
Some important points as to why we implement fire restrictions
The number one reason is to protect human life, property and our natural resources. The smallest spark can turn our dry forest into a dangerous wildfire that can threaten lives and property.
We use certain criteria to determine what stage of fire restrictions to implement, which includes current and predicted weather, how many resources we have available to fight fires, fuel moisture in the forest, fire behavior and containment challenges, as well as several others. Additional details, protocols and processes are available.
Regardless of what level of fire restrictions we implement, not all fires can be prevented. Fires start from careless forest users, lightning, and inadvertent human-causes. We live in a fire-adapted ecosystem which depends on fire for its health, so it's never a question of IF a wildfire will start, butWHEN and HOW we will be able to respond to it.