forestservicelogoGiven moderate to severe drought conditions, hot weather and lower fuel moisture, officials of the San Bernardino National Forest are increasing fire restrictions, effective this Friday, July 31. Forest officials are taking these steps to prevent human-caused fires and raise public awareness as the summer continues to get warmer and dryer. Most wildfires on the San Bernardino National Forest, they say, are human-caused and increased restrictions are designed to reduce wildland fires. “We want visitors to enjoy their public lands,”  says Deputy Fire Chief Rocky Opliger, “but use common sense in the process. We are asking the public’s cooperation in helping us prevent destructive fires before they start.” Travelers through the forest should remain on designated roads and never park on dry brush or grass. Other fire restrictions, effective this week, include the following: wood and charcoal fires are permitted only in campgrounds and picnic grounds and within agency-permitted fire rings, though Forest Rangers may further restrict campfires under extreme fire conditions; wood and charcoal fires are not permitted in Yellow Post sites at this time; campfire permits are required for propane and gas stoves and lanterns used outside of developed sites; recreational shooting is limited to public shooting ranges; fireworks and exploding targets are prohibited; smoking is limited to enclosed vehicles, developed sites and areas cleared of vegetation three feet in diameter; and an approved spark arrestor is required for any internal combustion engine operated on designated forest routes—this includes chainsaws, generators, motorcycles, and off-highway vehicles. The U.S. Forest Service will be aggressively citing those who do not comply with posted restrictions; violations are classified as Class B misdemeanors and are subject to punishment of fines up to $10,000 or imprisonment. It should also be noted that persons responsible for wildland fires may be responsible for associated injuries and fire suppression costs. So, be fire safe on the forest and, per the Forest Service, “know before you go”—call the Big Bear Discovery Center at 866-3437 for updated information or visit the SBNF website.