Seasonal fire restrictions go into effect at the Tonto National Forest

Tonto National Forest ranked #8 on highest rated things to do in Arizona.
Tonto National Forest ranked #8 on highest rated things to do in Arizona.(Stacker)
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 1:29 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- U.S. Forest Service officials have activated their annual fire restrictions o reduce the risk of wildfires at the Tonto National Forest.

According to the Forest Service, stage 1 restrictions go into effect on Jun. 8 at 8 a.m. Still, portions of the Payson and Pleasant Valley Ranger Districts, including parts of the Pinal Mountains on the Globe Ranger District, are exempt. Wildlife officials are bracing for a potentially busy season after last year’s strong rainfall totals.

“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 Fire, Fuels, and Aviation Management Officer Andy 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.”

What’s prohibited?

  • Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire, including charcoal and briquettes, outside a structure the Forest Service provides within a designated area. A fire structure is a permanent metal or concrete structure specifically designed to contain a campfire or cooking fire installed and maintained by the Forest Service or equivalent.
  • Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter barren or cleared of flammable material.
  • Discharging a firearm, air rifle, or gas gun

“Designated areas are developed recreation sites such as campgrounds and picnic areas maintained and administered by the Forest Service, shown on the current Forest visitor maps, and equipped with permanent fire structures,” explained the Forest Service in a news release. “A stove fire is a fire built inside a fully enclosed metal stove, grill, or sheepherder-type stove, 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.”

What exemptions apply?

  • Persons using a device solely fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels that can be turned on and off. Forest officials say they 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.
  • People with written Forest Service authorization
  • Persons engaged in legal hunting activity are allowed to discharge a firearm while taking wildlife.

Violation of fire restrictions is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and six months of prison. For more information with maps of restrictions, fires, and the latest closures, click/tap here.

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