The drought situation affecting central Arizona has caused officials to decide to implement Stage 1 Fire Restrictions for the Tonto National Forest (Tonto). The restrictions begin at 8 am on May 14th. According to officials this is “an effort to protect public health by reducing the number of preventable, human-caused wildfires.” The order:
“Restrictions will remain in effect until forest officials determine that conditions have changed sufficiently to reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires.
During Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, the following acts are prohibited on all National Forest System lands within the Tonto:
Igniting, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire, including charcoal and briquettes, outside a fire structure that is provided by the Forest Service within a designated area.
Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three (3) feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of any flammable material.
Discharging a firearm, air rifle, or gas gun. This means recreational target shooting is prohibited. However, persons engaged in legal hunting activities pursuant to state, federal, or tribal laws and regulations are allowed to discharge a firearm while taking wildlife
Visitors are reminded that fireworks and explosives are prohibited year-round on National Forest System lands.
The May 8 start of the Maverick fire on the Mesa Ranger District is one of six human-caused wildfire starts on the Tonto already this month, according to Taiga Rohrer, Tonto National Forest Fire Management Officer.
“With extreme drought, ‘Very High’ to ‘Extreme Fire Danger’, no rain forecasted in the near future and rising temperatures, we’re anticipating an active wildfire season,” Rohrer said. “These fire restrictions will protect human life, property and our natural resources.”
Exemptions to the Stage 1 Fire Restrictions include:
Persons using a device solely fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels that can be turned on and off. Such devices 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.
Persons with a written Forest Service authorization specifically exempting them from the effect of this Order.
Persons engaged in legal hunting activity pursuant to state, federal, or tribal laws and regulations are allowed to discharge a firearm while taking wildlife.
Designated area defined: Developed recreation sites such as campgrounds and picnic areas that are maintained and administered by the Forest Service, shown on the current Forest visitor maps, and are equipped with permanent fire structures.
Fire structure defined: A permanent metal or concrete structure, which is specifically designed for the purpose of containing a campfire or cooking fire that has been installed and maintained by the Forest Service.
Forest officials emphasize that violation of these fire restrictions is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment for up to six months.
Forest officials emphasize that violation of these fire restrictions is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment for up to six months.”