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San Bernardino Forest Limits

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August 01, 2003 05:12PM
Article Published: Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 7:11:23 PM PST

Forest use more limited
Precautions depend on fire danger level
By JOE NELSON, Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO - New restrictions on camping, hunting and other recreation in the San Bernardino National Forest were announced Thursday by the U.S. Forest Service.

Communities from Lytle Creek to the Big Bear Valley will be affected by the mandate, which covers everything from the kinds of campfires allowed to the kinds of ammunition hunters are prohibited from using.

Although timber sales, mining operations and public woodcutting can continue during all levels of fire danger, the Forest Service will maintain discretion over the activities.

The restrictions are outlined in a plan that will soon be available to the public, likely in the format of brochures, possibly in the next three weeks, said Forest Supervisor Gene Zimmerman, who is headquartered in San Bernardino.

"We need to put together some brochures so people can have something in their hand, and vendors selling adventure passes can pass them out,' Zimmerman said.

A matrix included in the plan lists five levels of fire danger: low, moderate, high, very high and extreme. It also lists the activities allowed and restricted during each level of fire danger.

During extreme fire danger, access to the forest will be restricted to camping, picnic and other recreation sites within a quarter-mile from state or county highways.

Most affected by restrictions or closures during fire season are resort towns like Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead, whose economies thrive on tourism and recreation.

Also affected by the closures are hunters, whose licenses are restricted to certain areas and times, usually between August and October.

Zimmerman said the forest-use plan has been in the works for about three months and was spurred by public criticism of the Forest Service in September when it closed the forest for about three weeks due to high fire danger.

A big problem was how the information on the forest closure was disseminated to the public. Certain details were lacking, including areas that remained open to the public during the closure, including areas of Big Bear Lake, which isn't in the Forest Service's jurisdiction, Zimmerman said.

"The result of the closure and how we described the closure played a role in the significant reduction of tourism and the businesses dependent on that,' Zimmerman said. "And our closure fell right over the time when hunters could hunt ... so we locked them out of their activity.'

Forest Service spokeswoman Tricia Abbas said the experience was a learning one.

'At that time we got a lot of hand slaps, and we realized we could have done things differently. We took it to heart,' Abbas said, adding that as a result, the Forest Service met with mountain fire safe councils, chambers of commerce and others in mountain communities to address the issue.

The key issue, Abbas said, was how to strike a balance between the Forest Service's need to protect the public during fire season without it being detrimental to mountain businesses.

Abbas said the new plan can give the public and mountain business community a better picture of how the Forest Service gauges fire danger in the mountains and what it uses to base its decisions for closing off federal land to the public.

For more information, call the Mountaintop Ranger District at (909) 866-3437. or (909) 382-2600.

San Bernardino Forest Limits

katrina island 683August 01, 2003 05:12PM

Re: San Bernardino Forest Limits

jobe 780August 01, 2003 05:36PM

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