California Campers Face Stiff Regs on Public Lands
From Mount Diablo in the East Bay hills to the crest of the Sierra Nevada above Tahoe and Yosemite, fire danger has been upgraded to high this week for vacationers, campers and wilderness hikers in California, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Rangers, especially in Yosemite National Park and in the Lake Tahoe Basin, are also on "Idiot Alert" for this weekend – watching for those who illegally light fireworks, which are banned in both areas. At Yosemite, as at all national parks, it is illegal even to possess fireworks inside the park boundary.
Many campfire restrictions are being put in place for the weekend at parks, national forests and wilderness areas in Northern California.
"We're expecting 90-degree weather all week long," said Jerry Snyder, recreation officer for Stanislaus National Forest. "Fire danger can increase pretty quickly."
Visitor traffic is expected to be high this weekend, he said, and in a warning worthy of many areas across the state, he advised campers to check for updated restrictions on campfires and the required permits for all types of camping. New restrictions have been coming daily across the western United States.
In past years, with low snowpacks in the high Sierra, it has been common for rangers to ban campfires in early July at many wilderness areas and to restrict them elsewhere to fire rings at developed drive-in campgrounds.
The most severe campfire restrictions ordered this week are at campgrounds in the East Bay Regional Park District and in the Lake Tahoe Basin:
Bay Area Parks
- East Bay Regional Park District: High fire danger precautions were put in effect Tuesday for all 65 parks for the rest of summer. No smoking is allowed in wildland areas. No campfires or barbecues are allowed outside of designated campgrounds or picnic areas, including at Tilden, Chabot, Sunol and Black Diamond. Info: ebparks.org
- State parks: At Mount Diablo, campers are restricted to using compressed logs, charcoal or self-contained stoves at designated campsites; no open-flame campfires are permitted. At Big Basin Redwoods and Portola Redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains, campfires are permitted only in fire rings at designated, drive-in campsites; in the backcountry, only the use of backpacking stoves at designated trail camps is permitted, and smoking and campfires are prohibited. Info: parks.ca.gov (provides no details regarding upgrades to campfire restrictions)
- Point Reyes National Seashore: Fire danger was rated "moderate" Tuesday, which means self-contained camping stoves, grills at picnic areas and open beach-pit fires (with a permit) are allowed. No campfires or smoking is permitted in the park. Info: (415) 464-5100, option 2, Ext. 1; nps.gov/pore
Note: All Bay Area parks prohibit smoking on trails, and many prohibit an open flame or smoking anywhere in the park.
- Lake Tahoe Basin: With fire danger high, all fireworks are illegal in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Outside of developed drive-in campsites, a campfire permit is required to use a stove, lantern, barbecue or wood campfire. Info: Taylor Creek Visitor Center, (530) 543-2674, www.fs.usda.gov/ltbmu
- Stanislaus, Sonora: If you build a campfire outside a developed campground, you must have a campfire permit or wilderness permit. A ban on campfires in wilderness could be posted at any time. Info: (209) 532-3671, www.fs.usda.gov/stanislaus
- Plumas, Quincy: No open fires, campfires or charcoal fires are allowed except for fire rings in designated campsites. Info: (530) 283-2050, www.fs.usda.gov/plumas
- Shasta-Trinity, Redding: Campfire permits are required for any campfire or camp stove if you are outside a developed campground or picnic area. Info: (530) 226-2500, www.fs.usda.gov/stnf
- Yosemite: In Yosemite Valley, campfires are allowed in existing fire rings at designated campsites from 5 to 10 p.m.; firewood collection, including pinecones, is not permitted. Fireworks banned. Info: (209) 372-0200, nps.gov/yose
- Lassen Volcanic: Campfires are permitted in established fire rings. Collecting dead and downed limbs for firewood is allowed, but do not cut, saw or break off limbs from any tree, dead or alive. Info: (530) 595-4480, nps.gov/yose
Note: A wilderness permit, which usually includes a campfire permit, is required for entry into federal wilderness areas. Campfire restrictions can be posted at any time.
- Yosemite: Campfires are permitted with wilderness permit in existing fire rings, but prohibited at elevations over 9,600 feet; bring camp stove.
- Desolation: All campfires prohibited.
- Emigrant: No campfires above 9,000 feet or within a half mile of Emigrant Lake
- Mokelumne: No campfires above 8,000 feet or within one-quarter mile of Salt Springs Reservoir.
- Bucks Lake: A Forest Service order this week banned all campfires; only camp stoves are permitted, and only with a campfire permit.
Info:www.fs.usda.gov/r5 – click on "Pacific Southwest Region Forests."