The Tonto National Forest has prohibited most types of fire or fire-causing activities across the south and western portions of the forest effective Thursday, April 28, at 8 a.m.
All six of the forest's lakes -- Roosevelt, Apache, Canyon, Saguaro, Horseshoe and Bartlett -- are included.
Within the restricted areas, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or charcoal burning device is prohibited. Restrictions also apply to smoking outside of a cleared area, operating internal combustion power tools, using welding equipment or any torches with open flames, operating any combustion engines without spark arresting devices in effective working order, or discharging firearms except in taking game in accordance with Arizona hunting laws.
Petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns and heating devices are exempt and may still be used within the restricted areas. Violation of these restrictions is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment for up to six months in jail.
An extremely wet winter sparked a tremendous growth of grass, brush and other fine vegetation across the landscapes of the forest's Sonoran Desert terrain. With rising temperatures and winds drying out this vegetation, fire danger is quickly climbing.
"This is really not a step we want to take so early in the year," said Acting Forest Supervisor Tom Klabunde. "However, we have to recognize how dangerous these conditions are and act now."
The restrictions apply to south, southwest and western portions of the forest and include campgrounds, picnic areas and other recreation sites.
For a complete legal description and map of the restriction area, visit the Tonto National Forest website at www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto. For general information on fire activity and restrictions in Arizona call toll free (877) 864-6985.