Frequently Asked Questions

Bark Beetles and drought stressed trees
Contracting with the US Forest Service
Dogs in the campgrounds and on trails
Filming and Photography - Commercial Use
Fire Suppression Policy
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
History of the San Bernardino National Forest and Forest Reserve
Manzanita - Rare or Endangered?
Off Highway Vehicles
Paintball Shooting
Plants and Animals on the Forest
Smokey Bear in the classroom or special event
Surplus Property and Vehicles

When was the San Bernardino Forest Reserve established?

The San Bernardino Forest Reserve was established on February 25, 1893 by President Benjamin Harrison.

The San Jacinto Forest Reserve was established on February 22, 1897.

When did the San Bernardino Forest Preserve become the San Bernardino National Forest?

On March 4, 1907, all Forest Reserves were renamed National Forests. For the San Bernardino, this was short lived. By order of President Theodore Roosevelt, the San Gabriel and San Bernardino National Forests were combined, and named the Angeles National Forest on July 1, 1908.

The newly established San Jacinto National Forest became part of the Cleveland National Forest on July 1, 1908 ending its short stint as a separate National Forest.

President Calvin Coolidge reestablished the San Bernardino National Forest on September 30, 1925, combining National Forest lands in San Bernardino County from the Angeles National Forest with the San Jacinto mountains from the Cleveland National Forest.

The current San Bernardino National Forest encompasses the San Bernardino mountains, San Jacinto mountains and San Gabriel mountains (within San Bernardino County).

How did the San Bernardino National Forest get its name?

This forest is named for the San Bernardino Mountains which are a range at the eastern end of the Sierra Madre chain. The name is Spanish in origin. The traditional founding and naming of San Bernardino is that on May 20, 1810—the feast day of Saint Bernardino of Siena—a party of missionaries, soldiers and Indians led by Padre Dumetz, the last surviving member of Junipero Sierra's band of Franciscans, entered a valley called "Gauchama" by the Indians. Dumetz named it in Sierra's honor. The missionaries built a chapel which evolved into a town which ultimately became the city of San Bernardino.

Did someone make the Arrowhead on the hill in Waterman Canyon?

The Arrowhead geological landmark, located on a hillside above San Bernardino, is a natural feature. The Arrowhead is the subject of numerous Indian legends. Most revolve around the hot and cold springs and steam caves in the valley below.

What is the large R visible from San Bernardino?

The large R was built and is maintained by the University of Redlands

What is the highest peak in the San Bernardino National Forest?

Mount San Gorgonio is the tallest peak in Southern California (at 11,502 feet).


How many plants and animals live in the forest?

The San Bernardino National Forest is home to 440 wildlife species and thousands of plant species. Over 30 of these species of animals and plants are listed as threatened or endangered.


Are the Manzanitas in the San Bernardino Mountains endangered or rare?

There are no threatened, endangered or rare manzanitas on the San Bernardino National Forest. The most common manzanitas are Arctostaphylos glauca (bigberry manzanita), Arctostaphylos glandulosa (Eastwood manzanita) and Arctostaphylos patula (greenleaf manzanita). We also have several other manzanita species including Arctostaphylos parryana (Parry manzanita), Arctostaphylos pringlei (pinkbracted manzanita), and Arctostaphylos pungens (pointleaf manzanita). Most rare manzanitas, including threatened or endangered ones are located mostly near the coast of California or on the Channel islands.


How do I purchase maps and books?

Recreation, Wilderness, and other maps are available and may be purchased at any Ranger Station or on-line. Some sporting goods stores, outfitters, and map stores also sell these maps. USGS Maps can be obtained at

Where do I need an Adventure Pass or other recreation permits?

Where? - Recreation passes and permits, like the Forest Adventure Pass, are required for use of certain recreation sites and areas in the forest, and for certain facilities and services. Each Ranger Station maintains a listing of Areas, Sites and Services where a fee is required. Visit the Adventure Pass webpage for detailed listing of these sites and areas where a fee is required. Camping may require a separate fee, usually paid on-site. Private concessionaires operating Forest Service facilities charge their own fees on-site. How will I know where the fee is required when I'm in the Forest? Look for the signs shown below to be posted near the entry to designated fee Sites & Areas.

How do I reserve a campsite?

The ideal camping time in most Forest areas is May to October, prior to winter storm activity. Reservation campgrounds are available, however a few of Forest campgrounds are operated on a first-come, first-served system. Most campgrounds fill quickly during holiday weekends, therefore visitors should come prepared to camp in undeveloped areas. Forest employees will assist you in choosing an appropriate location. Most San Bernardino National Forest campgrounds will not accommodate oversized motor homes or camp trailers. handles reservations for most family and some group campgrounds.


Can I camp in areas outside developed campgrounds?

You may camp outside of developed campgrounds in Undeveloped or Dispersed areas. Dispersed areas are designated areas away from highways and development where camping along back roads or trails is permitted (during high fire season areas may be closed.) Potable water, toilets, and other amenities are not generally available. If you choose to camp outside developed areas, be sure to bring adequate water or be prepared to purify spring water before drinking. Because of year-around fire danger, wood or charcoal fires are not allowed (includes charcoal in a BBQ). Chemical or propane stoves may be used if you have a free California Campfire Permit, which may be obtained at the local Ranger Station. Know before you go! and check at the nearest Ranger Station for a map of the Remote Camping Areas and the current fire restrictions.

General Rules for remote camping:

  • Camp at least 200 feet from springs, water, meadows, trails and roads

  • Camp at least a quarter-mile from designated campgrounds, picnic areas, trailheads

  • Camp at least a quarter-mile from private property and state highways

  • Pack out all trash

  • Leave no trace

  • Also be sure you have a Wilderness Permit if you plan to spend the night in the Wilderness.


How long can I camp on the San Bernardino National Forest?

Camping is limited to a 14 day stay in any one location, and thirty days total on the forest in any one year. Note; picnic sites, and other day use areas only between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.


Where can I ride an Motorcycle, ATV, UTV, or drive my 4WD?

Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreation is just one of the many uses allowed on National Forest lands.

  • OHV travel is restricted to designated routes.
  • For current OHV opportunities please contact the Ranger station for the area you intend to visit.
  • All vehicles must have current registration; Green / Red Sticker or highway licensed, issued by the state department of motor vehicles. Unregistered vehicles may be impounded.
  • Red Sticker vehicles have a limited riding season during the year on the forest.
  • If highway licensed, the vehicle must meet all standards for operating on a public highway.
  • ATV's never are permitted on street-legal routes.
  • OHV trails are limited to vehicles less than 50 inches wide.
  • Visit this site for more information


Does the California Vehicle Code apply to Forest Roads?

All California Vehicle Code laws apply on Forest Service Roads. Vehicles must be properly licensed and equipped to operate on the road network. Non-Street legal vehicles are limited to the designated OHV routes. The Basic Speed Law applies to Forest Service Roads No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property. Violations resulting in conviction are reported to the state department of motor vehicles.


What's a Wilderness and do I need a Wilderness permit?

According to the Wilderness Act of 1964, wilderness areas are where earth and its community of life remains untrammeled, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. Wilderness Protection will never be gained simply by issuing a set of rules and regulations. It must come with love and understanding of the land. Wilderness Protection is a personal ethic. Some mark is left in Wilderness each time we visit, but each of us can make sure this mark is a small one. Minimum impact or no trace camping should be considered common sense behavior in the back country, but many people are not aware of what they leave behind. The number of visitors admitted to the Wilderness is limited. On summer weekends, some Wilderness areas can fill to capacity well in advance. All Wildernesses, except Santa Rosa and Bighorn Mountains, require free permits for day hiking and camping. Permits can be obtained from the local Ranger Station up to 3 months in advance. An Adventure Pass may be required in some locations. Group size is limited to 12 people per permit; 8 stock per permit. Visit this site for more information.


Can I have dogs in the campgrounds and trails?

Your canine companions traditionally have been welcome. The few rules that apply to dogs are meant to assure that you and other National Forest visitors have an enjoyable outdoor recreation experience. Last year, one of every eight dogs was involved in a situation, which resulted in either a warning to the owner or a complaint by a fellow camper. If the situation worsens, more rules and stronger enforcement action will be necessary, possibly resulting in a ban on pets in some sites. We hope such action will not be necessary. If you're camping with your pet and want to be sure that privilege is still available, please practice the following, (these rules will be enforced in developed recreation areas).

  • Leave vicious or unusually noisy dogs at home.
  • In Developed Sites keep your dog on a leash no more than 6 feet long.
  • Wilderness - Dogs must be on a leash no more than 6 feet long
  • At night keep your dogs and other pets inside an enclosed vehicle or in a tent.
  • Developed campgrounds are for people, not animals. Please do not bring more than two dogs or other pet to any one campsite.
  • Do not bring dogs onto developed swimming beaches, even if they are restrained. Guide dogs are an exception.
  • Dogs are not allowed in the Mount San Jacinto State Park Wilderness


Where can I have a campfire?

You may only have a campfire (wood or charcoal) in a fire ring provided and maintained by the San Bernardino National Forest in one of the following; Developed Campground, Developed Picnic Area or Yellow Post Campsite. If you choose to camp or picnic outside of developed site, only gas and propane stoves are allowed with a valid California Campfire Permit. Dry California summers sometimes bring special fire use restrictions. YOU MUST CHECK FOR CURRENT FIRE RESTRICTIONS. Regulations governing fire use restrictions are specific to each National Forest and change with weather conditions and the seasons throughout the year. Before each visit please check with the Forest you plan to visit for current fire restrictions.

Can I have a campfire in my backyard?

The Fire Restrictions apply to National Forest System lands within the boundary of the San Bernardino 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 CAL FIRE and San Bernardino and Riverside 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. Always call your local Fire Department to check on regulations in the community.

Where can I paintball?

Recreational Paintball use is considered "Target Shooting" and users must follow Recreational Target Shooting rules and use designated sites and sites operated under special use permit.Visit this site for more information.

Can I prospect or mine for gold on the forest?

Prospecting, mining and claim staking activities are permitted on National Forest system unappropriated land. Today's prospector must determine where prospecting is permitted and be aware of the regulations under which he is allowed to search for gold and other metals.Visit this site for more information.


How do I get Smokey Bear or a Forest Service Fire Truck to appear at my event or in my classroom?

Contact our Fire Prevention Officer Lauren Blake at 1-909-382-2873 or via email at Lauren and her best friend Smokey Bear can only be used in Fire Prevention programs.


Does the San Bernardino National Forest have a "Let Burn" policy?

No. All wildfires are considered to be a threat to communities. The San Bernardino National Forest Land Management Plan states "All human and natural ignitions will be suppressed using control, contain, confine strategies."

How can I tell the difference between drought stress and bark beetle infestation?

Bark beetle infested tree foliage turns straw-colored in at least one section of the tree or quite often the whole tree. Pitch tubes are often present on attacked trees and appear as white or red pieces of sap on the outside of the tree. Some suggest this appearance is as if the tree is attacked by bubblegum. Only a few of these in the top of a tree need to be present and often binoculars help find the pitch tubes.

What Tree species are susceptible to the Bark Beetle?

Western Pine beetles attack Ponderosa and Coulter pine and have the most aggressive response to drought because of their ability to reproduce several times per year. Large populations growing in stressed trees can then attack even healthy trees and overwhelm them.

Jeffrey Pine beetle attacks Jeffrey pine and does not reproduce as fast as Western Pine beetle. It is present and effective in killing Jeffrey pine but not as epidemic as Western Pine Beetle.

Other insects such as Fir engraver and Ips beetles take advantage of stressed trees and can cause mortality as well.

Drought causes stress in trees and other agents such as root diseases can also come in and make it appear as if trees are dying of thirst when they are actually being attacked by other causes.

Why are the pine trees dying?

The trees are weakened by lack of water and produce less sap than a healthy tree. Sap forms the tree's natural defense system, leaving it unable to reject a beetle attack. The beetles are able to bore into the tree, laying their eggs. When the larvae hatch, they feed underneath the bark, cutting off water flow. During warm weather the beetles reproduce in extremely large numbers, allowing them to kill the trees quickly.

Why can't you spray the Forest and eliminate the beetles and can you protect individual trees by spraying?

In order to eliminate beetles from the area, we would have to spray every surface on every tree where beetles might reside. With the rugged terrain in our local mountains, it would not be possible to do so. Although we cannot eliminate bark beetle populations from the Forest, individual trees can be protected with preventive spraying of the chemical Carbaryl (commonly known as Sevin). The San Bernardino National Forest is using this type of spray to protect high value trees in campgrounds and at Administrative sites. Such spraying should be done in early spring, before the beetles fly. Individuals considering use of preventive sprays should consult a professional pesticide applicator.

What if the trees on the adjacent National Forest are threatening my home?

If you feel the trees on the San Bernardino National Forest are a direct threat to your home either by fear that they may fall or a high fire danger, please call your local Ranger Station.


Contracts with the Southern California Province fill a variety of needs for the Forest Service and provide economic opportunities for many types of businesses. Advanced Acquisition Plan for the San Bernardino National Forest

The Forest Service no longer maintains general 'bidders list'. All current and potential government contractors are currently required to enroll in Central Contractor Registration to be awarded contracts by any government agency.

How do I buy surplus property and vehicles?

You may find information about Surplus Property and Vehicle Auctions on the General Services Administration Auctions web site.

Can I shoot Film/Video or take Photographs on the National Forest?

Filming permits are required for Commercial Filming/Video and Still Photography on the National Forest. Movie & Photography scouts need to contact the Inland Empire Film Commission for permit information.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law ensuring public access to U.S. government records. FOIA carries a presumption of disclosure; the burden is on the government - not the public - to substantiate why information may not be released. Upon written request, agencies of the United States government are required to disclose those records, unless they can be lawfully withheld from disclosure under one of nine specific exemptions in the FOIA. This right of access is ultimately enforceable in federal court. Click here for more information how to file a FOIA.