Fire restriction inside and outside the basin |

Fire restriction inside and outside the basin

Jeff Munson

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / An NDF helicopter drops water on a wildland fire on lower Kingsbury grade last Thursday.

With the risk of forest fire growing by the day, officials in California and Nevada placed restrictions Monday on public land. As for inside the Lake Tahoe Basin, forestry officials plan to meet soon to discuss tightening already semi-permanent rules.

It is illegal to camp and have campfires in the basin except for designated campgrounds and in dispersed campsites such as those at Luther Pass and in Blackwood Canyon. Otherwise, backcountry camping in Desolation has a no fire, gas stove only restriction.

While places outside of the basin have put restrictions on cigarette smoking, at this time no such ban is in place at Lake Tahoe. Smoking restrictions on public land will be visited soon, however, said Rex Norman, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

“This year especially we are urging people to use extreme caution in all sources of ignition,” Norman said. “Please observe all restrictions regarding fire and remember that about 80 percent of the fire starts are human-caused, so there is a lot to do to reduce risk.”

Elsewhere outside the basin, drought conditions, increasing daytime temperatures and high winds have prompted fire officials to announce the implementation of fire restrictions today. According to a news release from the Bureau of Land Management, vegetation in western Nevada and eastern California has dried out much earlier than normal this year. A large crop of grass and brush at lower elevations, which is growth that resulted from two consecutive wet winters, is particularly vulnerable right now.

The public is encouraged to safely enjoy the public lands, bearing in mind that the recent Cannon, Martis, Waterfall, and Andrew fires were all human-caused.

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Mark Struble, spokesman for the BLM, said motorists should be especially careful when driving off-road, because hot exhaust systems can ignite dry grasses.

“The potential for another devastating fire during the summer is very real,” Struble said.

Fire Restrictions Prohibit:

— Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire except a portable stove using gas or pressurized liquid fuel, outside of a developed fee campground or picnic area except by permit.

— Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or at a developed campground or picnic area.

— Welding, or operating an acetylene torch with open flames, except by permit.

— Using or causing to be used, any explosive, except by permit.

— Possession or use of fireworks, tracer rounds, steel-core ammunition, or any other incendiary device.

— Open burning of weeds, brush and yard debris.

In addition, the Nevada Division of Forestry restrictions within the Sierra Fire Protection District prohibit operating vehicles off of existing hard surface gravel roads or dirt roads in wildland areas, and operating vehicles or equipment traveling on or using wildland areas without at least an ax, shovel and one gallon of water.

The BLM and Forest Service recommend avoiding wildland travel whenever possible to prevent grass from igniting from hot exhaust systems.

All agencies recommend that individuals carry cell phones while in the wildlands or national forests to report wild fires.

Affected Areas:

— BLM – all areas, roads and trails on BLM-Carson Field Office lands outside of developed recreation sites with the exception of Sand Mountain Recreation Area, and the portion of the Walker Lake Recreation Area within 100 yards of Walker Lake or between Walker Lake and U.S. Highway 95 where camp fires are permitted.

— Forest Service – all areas, roads and trails, with the exception of campfires covered by a valid campfire permit in the Hope Valley and Blue Lakes areas and within the Carson-Iceberg and Mokelumne Wilderness.

— NDF – all areas, roads and trails within the boundaries of the Sierra Forest Fire Protection District in Carson City, Douglas County, and within state parks and state lands in Washoe County. These restrictions also apply to Storey County.

Struble said another example of potential fire danger is the use of charcoal grills. Charcoal burns longer and hotter than wood and may appear to be cold; however, embers can linger for hours. Winds can spread the embers from charcoal and campfires into vegetation, igniting a wildfire. He said propane or white gas stoves are acceptable for use during fire restrictions.

Forest Service and NDF will be aggressively citing those who do not comply with the posted restrictions and those who use or possess fireworks.

For more information on the restrictions, contact the BLM-Carson City Field Office at (775) 885-6000, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Carson Ranger District at (775) 882-2766, the Bridgeport Ranger District at (760) 932-7070, or the Nevada Division of Forestry at (775) 849-2500.

Violation of these prohibitions:

— Is subject to punishment by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than six months or both.

— Offenders may also be responsible for resource damage, suppression costs and any injuries that occur if they are found liable for causing a wildfire.

— The Nevada Appeal contributed to this report