UPDATE: Now that we’ve had some rain here along the Central Coast, Level IV fire restrictions for the Los Padres National Forest have been lifted. A California Campfire Permit is still required to build a campfire outside of a designated Campfire Use Site. Details of the relaxed fire restrictions now in effect can be found on the Los Padres National Forest website. Be aware that wildfires can occur at any time of year in the Coast Range, including during the winter months. Also, total rainfall for the current season is still well below normal, meaning that we’re potentially entering a third consecutive year of drought unless the rains pick up considerably over the next few months. If this happens, you can anticipate that Level IV restrictions will be re-imposed again next summer, probably at an even earlier date.
Here’s the original post:
You know it’s turning into a really bad wildfire season when this happens. As of July 23, 2013, the Los Padres National Forest is imposing Level IV Fire Restrictions on the entire Forest, including all five ranger districts.
What are Level IV restrictions? Put simply, it means that no wood or charcoal fires of any kind are allowed anywhere in the National Forest, including in designated campgrounds (even if you have your California Campfire Permit). However, gas camping stoves may be used if (1) you’re in a designated Campfire Use Site, and (2) you have a California Campfire Permit. On the other hand, if you’re camping anywhere else in the Forest (i.e., in the backcountry or at an informal site along the road), you can’t have a fire or use your stove. In other words, leave the stove at home and plan on cold meals.
These restrictions may seem pretty draconian, but given the extremely dry conditions in the forest at the moment and the fact that new wildfires are breaking out just about every day, they’re absolutely necessary. Some considerations:
- While the use of camp stoves is still allowed in official campgrounds, designated backcountry campsites, such as Buckeye Camp on the Trout Creek Trail, are not included.
- If you’re car-camping at one of the designated Campfire Use Sites, be sure you have your California Campfire Permit if you want to use your stove. The Forest Service is planning to strictly enforce these restrictions, and you can expect that most of the enforcement activity will take place in the popular campgrounds.
- This order only affects the Los Padres National Forest. If you’re visiting a different national forest, check their website for the current restrictions. The national parks and California State Parks also have their own separate restrictions, so check with them for the latest information. This tip is particularly relevant if you’re going to the Big Sur area, where separate state park and national forest facilities are found in close proximity to each other.
- Fire restrictions are usually lifted (or relaxed) in the fall after the first significant rain storms have occurred and the danger of wildfire is much lower.
List of Designated Campfire Use Sites (Complete list of campgrounds and day-use areas where stoves may be used)
InciWeb (The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC)’s website with information on current wildfires on federal lands)