BLM Issues Fire Restrictions for Public Lands
PALM DESERT - In an effort to minimize the risk of devastating wildfires, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is issuing fire restrictions on public lands in the California desert, including requiring permits for campfires and barbecues.
A prolific growth of highly flammable invasive grasses as a result of last year's above-normal rainfall, followed by this year's below-normal rainfall, have resulted in a landscape of completely cured holdover grasses that are very combustible.
Teri Raml, BLM Desert District Manager, said the restrictions are necessary due to rising seasonal temperatures combined with dry vegetation. "Historically, these conditions have fueled very large wildfires," she said. "These fire restrictions are needed to reduce the wildfire threat to private property and the fragile desert ecosystem."
Effective May 15, the restrictions are officially referred to as Stage I covering BLM managed areas, and Stage II, covering "State Responsibility Areas" (SRA).
Stage I Fire Restrictions will apply in the following general areas:
BLM lands east of Highways 395 and 14, north of Highways 138 and 18, east of Highways 247, 62, 111, 86. Also known as High desert area near Ridgecrest, Bartow, and Needles.
In San Diego County south of Highway 78 and east of County Road S-2 and Interstate 8 to the Mexican border. Also known as El Centro area.
Stage II Fire Restrictions will apply to SRA in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego counties.
Stage I restrictions allow campfires and barbecues with a permit that can be obtained at all BLM field offices and fire/ranger stations, or from patrol personnel.
Stage II prohibits campfire and barbecues outside developed recreation sites. Controlled flame devices such as portable stoves are allowed by permit.
Raml said that target shooting is legal on BLM public lands in most areas. However, last year target shooting accounted for a large percentage of investigated human-caused fires. Raml reminds the public to practice the following safety precautions:
Find a safe backdrop -- do not shoot into rocky areas. Remember, shots fired across open desert can travel more than a mile.
Use proper ammunition; steel-core ammunition can easily spark on rocks. Clear your target area of any grasses and vegetation.
Check with your county sheriff's office for local restrictions and weapon types permitted.
Do not shoot on or near private property.
BLM appreciates the public's cooperation. However, Raml said non-compliance results in serious penalties by law. Any person who knowingly and willfully violates these fire restrictions the regulation of these restrictions can be subject to a fine of not more than $100 or to imprisonment of not more than 12 months or both.
A map and description of this closure is available on-line at: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/XXX.html
For more information, or to obtain a permit, contact the BLM's CDD office at (951) 697-5200, or local field offices in Barstow, (760) 252-6000; El Centro, (760) 337-4400; Needles, (760) 326-7000; Palm Springs-South Coast, (760) 833-7100; or Ridgecrest, (760) 384-5400.
Raml also reminds homeowners to "Take Responsibility" and keep 100 feet of clean, open space around their homes to provide defensible space and improve the chance that their homes and families can be protected in an uncontrolled wildfire. Additional information is available at the California Fire Alliance website at http://takeresponsibility.cafirealliance.com.