Current Fire Restrictions

Fire restrictions effective August 4, 2020:

  1. Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire except in a Forest Service provided campfire ring or BBQ within the areas listed Exhibit A. 36 C.F.R. 261.52(a).
  2. Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, or in the areas listed in Exhibit A.  36 C.F.R. 261.52(d).
  3. Operating an internal combustion engine off paved, gravel or dirt National Forest System roads and trails, except boats on a water surface.  36 C.F.R. 261.52(h).
  4. Welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame.  36 C.F.R. 261.52(i).
  5. Discharging a firearm except within the recreational shooting areas identified in Exhibit B.  36 C.F.R. 261.58(m).

Forest visitors are encouraged to “Know Before You Go” and call ahead to the local Ranger Station to check on location conditions and restrictions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are campfires allowed?

Wood and charcoal campfires are allowed only in developed campgrounds, picnic areas, yellow post sites, and special-use permitted sites within agency-provided metal/concrete fire rings or barbeques.

Campfires are not allowed anywhere else at any time of the year.

Additional restrictions on campfires may be implemented as fire danger increases, check with the local Ranger Station.

Can I use gas, liquid or jelly petroleum-fueled stove in undeveloped (remote) camping areas? What about developed camping/picnic areas?

Yes. Gas, liquid or jelly petroleum-fueled stoves are allowed in undeveloped areas but require a California Campfire Permit (available on-line click here). There is a detailed set of rules and regulations in place for undeveloped camping because of fire danger and the impact of vehicles or horses in the Forest. Additional restrictions may be implemented as fire danger increases.

Gas, liquid and jelly petroleum-fueled camp stoves are also allowed in developed campgrounds and picnic areas; however do not require a California Campfire permit because of the location.

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... even under the ground weeks later!

When do I need a California Campfire Permit?

Any time you plan to have a campfire in a yellow post site or use a stove. You do not need one while recreating in a developed recreation area (campground or picnic area).

Wood and charcoal fires are never permitted outside yellow post site fire rings, picnic area barbeques or campgrounds on the San Bernardino National Forest. 

Permits are available free-of-charge at offices of the San Bernardino National Forest, the Bureau of Land Management, and CAL FIRE and available on-line click here

Remember that regulations governing campfires are specific to each National Forest and change with weather conditions and the seasons. 

What about other National Forests in Southern California?

All Southern California national forests consider the unique characteristics of their individual forest when implementing Forest Use Restrictions.

This includes reviewing developed and remote recreational opportunities and determining which forest uses can be allowed as fire danger increases.

These restrictions are subject to change at any time. If you are planning a visit to one of the other Southern California National Forests, contact them directly to obtain current information on their use restrictions.

To Contact the Angeles National Forest call (626) 574-1613, and the Cleveland National Forest at (858) 673-6180.

What is the difference between developed and undeveloped (remote) camping?

Developed camping occurs at established campgrounds with services and facilities. A fee is charged.

Undeveloped camping means you will be camping outside a developed site, where there will be more opportunities for solitude and to ‘rough it’. A detailed set of rules and regulations exist for undeveloped camping because of potential fire danger and the impact of vehicles or horses in the Forest.

Check with the local Ranger Station for directions to an undeveloped camping site or area and to obtain your overnight Visitor’s Permit and California Campfire Permit. (available on-line click here)

A National Forest Adventure Pass is required for some areas, such as those with amenities like restrooms, picnic tables, and trash receptacles. In wilderness areas, only non-motorized access is allowed to remote campsites.

Why do we have Forest Use Restrictions?

Forest Use Restrictions are in place to protect the public and natural resources. They are designed to reduce human-caused fires. Wildfire suppression is very expensive.

Most wildfires are human-caused on the San Bernardino National Forest.

What factors does the Forest consider when it determines what Forest Use Restriction Level is put into place?

  • Current National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) level
  • Weather forecast (temperature, humidity, and rainfall), recent rainfall
  • Vegetation conditions (live/dead fuel moisture)
  • Fire situation in California
  • Current fire staffing levels on the Forest and in southern California

The San Bernardino National Forest Use Restrictions are tied to the national fire danger levels; however, all of these other factors also help determine the Forest Use Restrictions.

Do the Forest Use Restrictions apply to lands surrounding the San Bernardino National Forest?

No. The Use 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 CALFIRE and San Bernardino and Riverside Counties may have different restrictions and closures during periods of high fire danger.

The public should check with the appropriate 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 ignition occur.

Typically fire departments increase fire prevention and suppression staffing levels during these periods. These warnings usually last for just a few days until the conditions change or subside. A Red Flag Warning does not necessarily mean that the Forest is closed to the public.

What will happen if I violate Forest Use Restrictions?

You could be issued a violation notice for failing to adhere to current Forest Use Restrictions. You may also be charged for wildfire suppression costs. Violation of these regulations is a Federal offense punishable as a Class B misdemeanor, by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six (6) months or both. 16 USC 551, and 18 USC 3559 and 3571.

Can I target shoot on the San Bernardino National Forest?

Target shooting is only permitted at designated sites and facilities under special use permit. Discharging a firearm with steel core, armor piercing, or tracer ammunition is prohibited at all times. Additional restrictions may be implemented as fire danger increases, always check with the local Ranger Station.

Can I use a generator (motorized equipment)?

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 five-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 Ranger Station, telephone message system, 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 under the current Forest Use Restrictions. A fuelwood permit is required to cut wood and permit holders are required to contact the Ranger Station in advance of cutting to determine the fire restrictions in effect for that day. Check with the local Ranger Station for current restrictions and fuelwood permits. All chainsaws must have an approved spark arrester.

What is a spark arrester?

A spark arrester is a device that traps or pulverizes exhaust carbon particles to a size below 0.023 inches 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).

Is smoking allowed on the San Bernardino National Forest?

Currently, smoking is limited to enclosed vehicles, developed recreation sites, and areas cleared of vegetation three feet in diameter. Even on these approved sites, a 3-foot brush clearing is required, free of ignitable fuels around the smoker.  Smoking limitations may increase with fire danger levels.

If I see someone with fireworks on the National Forest, what should I do?

Fireworks (or transportation of fireworks) are illegal within the San Bernardino National Forest! Report them to the nearest law enforcement officer, local Ranger Station, or call 911.

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