With forest closures and fire restrictions limiting some recreation opportunities on the Tonto National Forest, officials are advising people to look ahead when making weekend plans.
“We want people to know that the Tonto is open for business, and so are the towns and businesses that cater to our visitors,” said Deputy Fire Staff Helen Graham.
“From playing in the water at one of the lakes or rivers or camping in a cool pine forest, there are plenty of opportunities for folks to share the holiday weekend with us.”
The first rule for anyone who plans to visit public lands this weekend is to know that fireworks are strictly prohibited on national forests.
“Fireworks are banned year-round on national forest system lands, not just during fire season,” said Graham, “but the Independence Day holiday always provides that additional temptation to break out the firecrackers and bottle rockets. Put simply, we will not tolerate the use of fireworks on the Tonto National Forest, and people who break the law will receive hefty fines, and maybe some jail time.”
“Recreational shooting is also banned throughout the forest under current restrictions, and is of particular concern,” emphasized Graham. “We have had six fire starts since April related to recreational shooting activities.”
Secondly, campfires limited to charcoal cooking fires only are allowed in fire grills and grates provided by the Forest Service in developed recreation sites on the Cave Creek, Mesa and Tonto Basin districts. No wood or charcoal campfires are allowed anywhere else on the forest.
Third, there are two closure areas on the forest. One area closure is on the northern boundary of the forest and includes the towns of Pine and Strawberry. The other closure area is bounded by Sunflower, Punkin Center, and Roosevelt and Saguaro lakes. Closure and restriction orders, with maps, are available on the forest Web site.