Even state fire marshal-approved Safe and Sane fireworks like the ones above can become dangerous or create fires if used improperly or near dry brush, which is abundant in the Owens Valley this year. Photo by Mike Gervais
A general lack of precipitation in the Eastern Sierra has led to fire and fireworks restrictions on public lands.
Effective Friday, the Bureau of Land Management-Bishop Field Office and the Inyo National Forest are implementing fire restrictions.
â€śOngoing drought conditions, well below average rain and snowfall this past winter and warmer than average temperatures have led to very dry conditions for this time of year,â€ť said INF Supervisor Ed Armenta. â€śWe are experiencing very high fire danger and continued hot and dry weather patterns here in the Eastern Sierra.â€ť
Beginning Friday, and continuing until further notice, the BLM and USFS will be implementing campfire and fireworks restrictions and prohibit smoking, welding and the use of explosives on public lands.
In addition to campfires, briquette barbeques or stove fires will not be allowed outside of designated; developed recreation sites and specifically- posted campsites or areas.
A list of designated campgrounds and recreation sites where stoves and fires are permitted is available at local ranger stations and visitor centers, and on the Inyo National Forest website, www.fs.usda.gov/inyo.
â€śPersons with a valid California Campfire Permit (available free of charge at any ranger station or visitor center) are not exempt from the prohibitions but are allowed to use portable stoves or lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel,â€ť a press release from the BLM and INF states.
The press release goes on to state that it is illegal to possess or discharge any fireworks on BLM or Forest Service land.
Steve Nelson, Acting BLM Bishop field manager and Armenta urge the publicâ€™s cooperation in helping to prevent wildfires in this year of very high fire danger, and they remind both residents and visitors that fireworks, even Safe and Sane are not allowed at any time on public lands.
Officials are also advising residents to be careful if they feel the need to smoke cigarettes on public lands. No smoking is permitted except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site (such as a campsite)or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
Resorts, pack stations, recreation residences and other sites operate under special use permits from the Forest Service or BLM and may be exempt from the special orders, as long as any fire activity is conducted in compliance with their permit. Special use permit holders should contact their permit administrator to make sure they are on the list of exempt sites, or check the information for special use permit exemptions on the Inyo National Forest website, www.fs.usda.gov/inyo.
According to the BLM, any person convicted of knowingly and willfully violating a Fire Prevention Order can be fined up to $1,000, receive up to 12 months in jail, or both. That person is also liable for the cost of damages and suppression of the fire.
For more information, call Debra Hein at (760) 872-5057 or Deb Schweizer at (760) 873-2427.
The Mono County Sheriffâ€™s Department is also reminding residents to exercise caution this Independence Day.
According to Mono County Code Section 10.18, the use or discharge of fireworks, including safe and sane fireworks, are prohibited, except for in designated areas within the county. â€śIf you are using fireworks of any kind in a designated area, please remember to read and follow all instructions, have water and a fire extinguisher readily available, and always supervise children,â€ť Mono County Sheriffâ€™s Public Information Officer Jennifer Hansen said. â€śMono County Sheriff Deputies will issue tickets and/or confiscate fireworks being used outside the designated areas.â€ť
The Inyo County Sheriffâ€™s Department is also running its annual illegal fireworks checkpoints at Inyo County/Nevada boarder crossings in an effort to keep mortars and other illegal fireworks out of California.
In previous years, local law enforcement has confiscated thousands of pounds of illegal fireworks during the operation.
Transporting or using illegal fireworks can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the type and amount of illegal fireworks.