Fire Restrictions - Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ's: Fire Restrictions, Gas Engines and Camp Stoves


 Why do we have Fire Restrictions?

Fire Restrictions are in place to protect the public and natural resources. They are designed to reduce human-caused fires.  Wildfire suppression is very expensive and can threaten life and property.   Nationwide, 80% of wildfires are human caused.

Are Fire Restrictions the same for all National Forests in California?

No.  Each national forest may have different use regulations based on local circumstances, conditions and facilities.  Fire Restrictions are subject to change at any time.  If you are planning a visit to one of the other California National Forests, contact them directly to obtain current information.

What factors does the Forest consider when it determines Fire Restriction implementation?

The Forest considers the following factors when determining the Fire Restrictions:

  • Current National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) level
  • Weather forecast (temperature, humidity, and rainfall), recent rainfall
  • Vegetation conditions (live/dead fuel moisture)
  • Current fire staffing levels on the Forest and in California
  • The Plumas National Fire Restrictions are tied to the national fire danger levels; however, all of these other factors also help determine the Fire Restrictions

Do the Fire Restrictions apply to lands surrounding the Plumas National Forest?

No.  Fire Restrictions apply to National Forest System lands within the boundary of the Plumas National Forest.  However, Forest Officers do have the discretion to enforce applicable laws if an activity poses any threat to the National Forest.   Although we work cooperatively with all local agencies, other jurisdictions such as CALFIRE and Counties may have different restrictions and closures during periods of high fire danger. The public should check with the local agency to determine what restrictions are in place for the areas outside of the National Forest.

What is a Red Flag Warning/Fire Weather Watch?

A Red Flag Warning/Fire Weather Watch is issued by the National Weather Service for windy or dry weather that could promote large wildfires should an ignition occur.  These warnings usually last for a few hours to a few days until conditions change or subside.  A Red Flag Warning does not necessarily mean that the Forest is closed to the public, but again always check with your local Forest Service office for current Fire Restrictions when planning your visit.  “Know Before you Go”

Who has the authority to implement Fire Restrictions for the Plumas National Forest?

The Forest Supervisor of the Plumas National Forest has the authority to implement Fire Restrictions as listed in a Special Order.

How can I find out what Fire Restrictions are for the Plumas National Forest and what the allowable activities may occur?

Plan ahead, contact the local Forest Service office for more information on Fire Restrictions that may be in effect.


Internal Combustion Engines (gas motorized equipment)

Can I use a generator?

Yes.  A generator with an approved spark arrester may be operated for recreational purposes on areas that are barren or cleared of all flammable materials for at least a ten-foot radius around the generator, or if they are internally contained within a recreational vehicle.  All motorized equipment with an internal combustion engine is required to have a spark arrester.  Check before you go with the local Forest Service office or Forest website for current information.

Can I use a chain saw (motorized equipment)?

Yes, providing it has an approved spark arrester and this activity is allowed after checking the woodcutting number (1 800 847-7766) for possible shutdown period.  A shut down period is imposed when forest conditions are dry and the weather is warm.  This reduces the chance of a spark generated from woodcutting activities starts a fire.

Can I ride my off-highway vehicle (OHV) in the Plumas National Forest?

Only street legal vehicles are permitted on designated Forest system paved roads.  Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV’s) are only allowed on designated routes.  CLICK HERE for Motor Vehicle Use Maps.  All OHV’s with an internal combustion engine are required to have an approved and operating spark arrester and current registration.

What is a spark arrester?

A spark arrester is a device that traps or pulverizes exhaust carbon particles to a size below 0.023 inch in diameter as they are expelled from an exhaust system. Trap style spark arresters must have a method for cleaning of accumulated carbon particles.

When operating or using any internal or external combustion engine, a spark-arresting device must be properly installed, maintained, and in effective working order meeting either the USDA Forest Service Standard 5100-1a (as amended), or appropriate Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practice J335(b) and J350(a) 36 CFR 261.52(j).


Camp Stoves:

Can I use a gas, liquid or jelly petroleum-fueled stove in undeveloped (remote) camping areas?

Yes.  Gas, liquid or jelly petroleum-fueled stoves are allowed in undeveloped areas but require a California Campfire Permit.   Additional restrictions may be implemented as fire danger increases.

Can I use a gas, liquid or jelly petroleum-fueled stove in developed campgrounds and developed picnic areas?

Yes.  Gas, liquid and jelly petroleum-fueled camp stoves are allowed in developed campgrounds and developed picnic areas.

Why are jelly petroleum-fueled stoves okay and campfires aren’t?

Gas, liquid, and jelly petroleum-fueled stoves can be extinguished by turning off the fuel source to the stove.  Jelly petroleum-fueled stoves can be extinguished by putting a metal lid over the container.  This makes their use much safer than campfires.  Ashes or hot briquettes can blow outside of the fire pit; these embers can easily start a wildfire.  Also, visitors might discard ashes or hot charcoal briquettes before they are completely cool, which could cause vegetation to ignite later after they are gone.

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