Fire restrictions amped up in eastern Sierra Nevada national parks

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks this week are entering Stage 2 when it comes to fire restrictions in hot and dry low elevations of the parks

Mid Valley Times Staff
Published June 20, 2023  • 
1:00 pm

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK – High temperatures are heating up beyond triple digits this week in the Central Valley, and into the high 80s and 90s in higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada. As a result, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are entering the next stage of fire restrictions.

The parks announced on June 18 that stage 2 fire restrictions will begin at 6 a.m. Wednesday, June 21. These restrictions prohibit campfires and charcoal fires in the fire-susceptible low-elevations of the parks – including Potwisha Campground and Hospital Rock and Ash Mountain Picnic Areas.

Under stage 2 restrictions, wood and charcoal fires also are prohibited in any wilderness areas below 6,000 feet elevation. Year-round elevation and/or site specific wilderness fire measures also are in place. Campers are asked to check out their wilderness permit, or see a trailhead ranger for details pertaining to their camping and travel itinerary.

Campers are also are prohibited from smoking of any kind below elevations of 6,000 feet, unless driving in an enclosed vehicle or within a private residence where smoking is prohibited; Also, smoking is allowed if it is a designated smoking area by the parks

Some of the areas that typically would fall under stage 2 restrictions remain closed in the wake of massive winter storms in early 2023 that damaged those areas. Closed areas include South Fork Campground and Buckeye Flat Campground in Sequoia Park.

“Even after a very wet winter, the lower elevations of the Sierra Nevada dry out quickly, and accidental fire starts in this ecosystem pose a serious risk of spreading fast,” said Fire Management Officer Leif Mathiesen. “Fire restrictions are meant to stop unwanted, dangerous ignitions before they occur. The firefighters thank you for respecting these important precautions put in place to protect you and your public lands.”

Fire restrictions do not apply to campers using gas, propane, alcohol and table/cub stoves. Use of these stoves remains permitted in areas affected by the fire restrictions.

The National Park Service continues to urge the public to be extremely careful with fire in all areas of the park. Despite the record winter of snowfall and snowpack, additional fire hazards remain as brush dries  from warmer temperatures.

The park service also provides additional safety tips including checking that your vehicle is in good working order before your visit; use only official, pre-built fire rings for campfires in front-country areas; and ensure that your campfire is fully extinguished cold before going to sleep or leaving the area. Also, fireworks of any type are prohibited year-round in the national parks.

The stage 2 fire restrictions will remain in effect until conditions significantly change; likely near the end of summer. More information is available by going online to www.nps.gov/seki/learn/nature/fire-restrictions.htm, or by contacting the fire information office at seki_fire_info@nps.gov.

Mid Valley Times Staff