Due to warmer weather conditions, fire danger, an increase of abandoned campfires, and for public safety, Coconino National Forest officials will implement additional fire restrictions beginning Thursday (June 22) at 8 a.m.
Coconino National Forest has been in Stage I fire restrictions since June 15, which prohibited campfires across the forest and limited them to hosted developed campsites only. However, 34 abandoned campfires were located on the Forest over the weekend, and with the number of abandoned campfires found each day, coupled with dry lightning and warm weather, it is necessary to implement additional fire restrictions.
Stage II fire restrictions will be in effect beginning tomorrow that prohibit the following:
1. Fires, campfires, charcoal, coal, and wood stoves. (except using a device that is solely fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels that can be turned on and off in areas that are barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within three feet of the device).
2. Smoking (except within an enclosed vehicle or building).
3. Using an explosive.
4. Possessing, discharging, or using any type of firework by pyrotechnic device.
5. Operating a chainsaw or any other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine from the hours of 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (except generators with an approved spark arresting device within an enclosed vehicle or building or in an area that is barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within three feet of the generator).
6. Welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame.
7. Operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained, and in effective working order (this does not include motor vehicles. This is aimed at things such as landscaping tools).
8. Discharging firearms, air rifles, or gas guns (except while engaged in a lawful hunt pursuant to state, federal or tribal laws and regulations).
9. Possessing or using a motor vehicle off National Forest System roads (except when parking in an area devoid of vegetation within 10 feet of the roadway or when parking overnight in Forest Service developed campgrounds and trailheads).
This means that all vehicles must remain on an open Forest Road when driving. All parked vehicles must remain within 10 feet of a Forest Road AND only in an area that is devoid of vegetation. This is to keep catalytic converters and other sources of heat underneath the vehicle from igniting vegetation.
Visitors may NOT drive over areas of vegetation to place their trailers or unload their tents and camping supplies, and may NOT park directly on a designated Forest Road. Thus, finding a suitable location for pulling a trailer off the road will be challenging, particularly with the number of visitors expected during summer months. As a result, some campers may not find a spot to camp on the Coconino National Forest at this time and during the busy weekends.
An explanation of the different stages of fire restrictions and what is typically prohibited during those stages can be found online at www.tinyurl.com/firestagesexplained. The public should be aware that state-managed and state-owned lands in Coconino County, south of the Colorado River, will also go into Stage II fire restrictions at the same time.
Fire restrictions will remain in place until the forest receives significant precipitation. Violation of the restrictions on national forests is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment up to six months, or both.