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Published on May 23, 2024
Tonto National Forest in Arizona Imposes Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, Bans Recreational Shooting Amid Wildfire ThreatSource: Google Street View

As wildfire risks heat up, the Tonto National Forest officials have decided to impose Stage 1 Fire and Recreational Target Shooting Restrictions starting Thursday, May 23. Visitors need to snuff out the campfires and holster their guns, as authorities move to prevent potential fire disasters.

The restrictions, enforced starting 8 a.m., were jointly determined with other federal and state land management agencies across Arizona, due to escalated fire danger throughout the forested area. Aiming to abruptly reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires, they ban building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire, including both charcoal and briquettes, unless you're in a spot with a Forest Service-provided fire structure. Smokers better find a designated area or stay inside their cars, and recreational shooters, keep your firearms at bay – you won’t be able to discharge them in the Tonto.

There are, however, some exemptions to these rules, as highlighted in a public notice. Liquid petroleum or LPG-fueled devices that can be switched on and off are allowed, providing they're operated in a clear area. Official duty officers, individuals with special Forest Service authorization, and those legally hunting under state, federal, or tribal laws are also given the green light to proceed as usual.

Fire Staff Officer Andy Mandell is banking on public cooperation to sideline potential blazes. “Vehicle fires continue to occur along SR 87. It only takes one spark from dragging trailer chains or an exposed wheel rim cause by a tire blowout to ignite dry vegetation,” Mandell cautioned in a statement obtained by the forest service. He's pressing the importance of vehicle maintenance to decrease the chances of roadside fires, drawing attention to risks like parking over dry grass in current high temperatures.

Violating these newly minted restrictions could cost you – up to $5,000 and possibly six months behind bars. If you're seeking detailed specifics on the new rules or where they apply, the Forest Service's Alerts & Warnings page has the lowdown. Further state and federal fire restrictions updates are also available for those planning to roam the wider Arizonian landscapes.