Tonto National Forest initiating Stage 1 Fire, Recreational Shooting Restrictions June 8

Release Date: Jun 7, 2023

Contact(s): Amanda Oliver

PHOENIX, June 7, 2023 —The Tonto National Forest will implement Stage 1 Fire and Recreational Shooting Restrictions on portions of the forest beginning at 8 a.m. on Thursday, June 8. 
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions also include recreational shooting restrictions in an effort to protect public and firefighter safety, as well as National Forest System lands and resources, in areas identified as having Very High wildfire danger. 

Portions of the Payson and Pleasant Valley Ranger Districts including portions of the Pinal Mountains on the Globe Ranger District are exempt from Stage 1 Fire Restrictions as referenced in the restriction order and restriction map, Exhibit A.

Restrictions will remain in effect until Forest Service officials determine that conditions have changed sufficiently to reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires.  

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions prohibit the following acts when visiting the Tonto: 
          •    Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire, including charcoal and briquettes, outside a structure that is provided by the Forest Service within designated area. Fire structure is a permanent metal or concrete structure specifically designed to contain a campfire or cooking fire that the Forest Service or equivalent installed and maintains. Designated areas are developed recreation sites such as campgrounds and picnic areas that are maintained and administered by the Forest Service, shown on the current Forest visitor maps, and equipped with permanent fire structures. A stove fire is a fire built inside a fully enclosed metal stove, grill, or sheep herder type stove, which is outfitted with a chimney that is at least 5 feet in length and is equipped with a spark arrestor consisting of a mesh screen with a screen opening of ¼ inch or less.
          •    Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least (3) feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of any flammable material. 
          •    Discharging a firearm, air rifle, or gas gun

Exemptions to Stage 1 Fire Restrictions include:
          •    Persons using a device solely fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels that can be turned on and off. Such devices can only be used in an area that is barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within 3 feet of the device.
          •    Any federal, state, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of official duty.                    
          •    Persons with a written Forest Service authorization specifically exempting them from this Order or a written determination by a Forest Service authorized officer that a permit is not required.          
          •    Persons engaged in legal hunting activity pursuant to state, federal, or tribal laws and regulations are allowed to discharge a firearm while taking wildlife. 

Fire, Fuels, and Aviation Management Officer Andy Mandell, of the Tonto, emphasizes the need for the public to be very careful while visiting and traveling through the forest, as well as observing campfire and recreational shooting restrictions.

A very active monsoon season last year and well above average rainfall totals earlier this year have led to an abundance of annual and invasive grass growth that under the current conditions pose an elevated fire danger risk. Recent wildfires like the Bullet Fire underscore the increased fire danger and we are asking the public to comply with these restrictions,” said Mandell. “The public can help prevent roadside fires by having regular maintenance checks on their vehicles and/or trailers and by making sure their trailer chains aren’t dragging.” 

Violation of fire restrictions is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment for up to six months. 

For more information regarding the fire restrictions closure order, shooting restrictions and an accompanying map, see Alerts & Warnings.

The public can obtain current state and federal fire restrictions information across Arizona on the Arizona Interagency Wildfire Prevention and Information website. 

Visit Inciweb for information on current fires burning in Arizona.

For the latest news and information about the Tonto National Forest, follow us on Facebook @TontoNationalForest or Twitter @TontoForest.