Current Fire Restrictions

Fire restrictions and guidelines effective Thursday, February 1 on the San Bernardino National Forest are as follows:

The fire restrictions that are effective on all San Bernardino National Forest lands are as follows:

  • Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire except in developed recreation sites.  36 CFR 261.52(a).
  • 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.  36 CFR 261.52(d).
  • Welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame.  36 CFR 261.52(i)

Click for a link to the Full-Text version of  the Forest Order.

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

San Bernardino National Forest Supervisor’s Office
602 S. Tippecanoe Ave., San Bernardino
(909) 382-2600

Mountaintop Ranger District Office & Big Bear Discovery Center
41397 North Shore Drive / Highway 38, Fawnskin
(909) 382-2790

San Jacinto Ranger District Office
54270 Pine Crest, Idyllwild
(909) 382-2922

Front Country Ranger District Office
1209 Lytle Creek Road, Lytle Creek
(909) 382-2851

Mill Creek Visitor Center
34701 Mill Creek Road, Mentone
(909) 382-2882

Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center
51-500 Highway 74 Palm Desert
(760) 862-9984

During wildland fires, follow us on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/SanBernardinoNF  or on Inciweb at:  http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

Fire Restrictions - Frequently Asked Questions

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 per year 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?

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

·         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 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. 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, but again always check with your local Ranger Station for current Forest Use Restrictions when planning your visit. “Know Before you Go”

Who has the authority to implement Forest Use Restrictions for the San Bernardino National Forest?

The Forest Supervisor of the San Bernardino National Forest has the authority to implement Forest Use Restrictions as listed in a Special Order.

How can I find out what Forest Use Restrictions are for the San Bernardino National Forest and what the allowable activities may occur?

Plan ahead, contact the local Ranger Station for more information on Forest Use Restrictions that may be in effect.

·         Forest Supervisor's Office in San Bernardino

·         Mountaintop Ranger District Office & Big Bear Discovery Center

·         San Jacinto Ranger District Office

·         Front Country Ranger District Office

·         Mill Creek Visitor Center

If you have questions on current Forest Use Restrictions or to hear a recorded message call (909) 382-2600 (Select option 8 then 5 then 2).

Are Forest Use Restrictions the same for all National Forests in Southern California?

No. Each national forest may have different Forest Use Restrictions based on local circumstances, conditions and facilities. The San Bernardino National Forest reviews each developed and remote recreational opportunity and determines which forest uses could be allowed as fire danger increases. Forest Use 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. All Southern California national forests consider the unique characteristics of their individual forest when implementing Forest Use Restrictions. To Contact the Angeles National Forest call (626) 574-1613, and the Cleveland National Forest at (858) 673-6180.

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 are 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 go camping while Forest Use Restrictions are in place?

Yes, although care and caution should be taken when camping at any time of the year. Check before you go camping with the local Ranger Station for current information about what facilities are open and what uses or areas are restricted or closed.

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. In certain areas, only non-motorized access is allowed to remote campsites because of the area’s wilderness designation.

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 fire rings or designated sites. 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 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 (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, check with the local Ranger Station.

If you have a valid wilderness permit, this will cover your use of a gas stove for the location(s) and the date(s) specified on your permit. 

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. Wood, charcoal, or any solid fuel fires are not allowed within the San Bernardino National Forest outside developed campgrounds, picnic areas, yellow post sites, and special use permitted sites in agency-provided fire rings or designated sites at any time of the year.

When do I need a California Campfire Permit?

You must obtain a California Campfire Permit if you plan to build a campfire in a yellow post site or use a stove, unless you are in a developed recreation area (campground or picnic area). Remember, wood and charcoal fires are never permitted outside yellow post sites, picnic areas 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. To protect yourself and the forest, before each visit check with the Forest Service for current campfire restrictions.

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.

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

Only street legal vehicles are permitted on designated Forest system roads. Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV’s) are only allowed on posted designated routes. 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).

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 level.

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

Fireworks (or transportation of fireworks) are NEVER allowed within the San Bernardino National Forest! Report them to the nearest law enforcement officer, local Ranger Station, or call 911.

Will I be able to hunt on the San Bernardino National Forest?

The San Bernardino National Forest is open to the hunting of birds and game according to current season schedules and hunting regulations set by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Always check with the local Ranger Station before you go, they can provide current information on any area closures or restrictions.