DBNF joins County and BSFNRRA by issuing burn ban.
By Eugenia Jones
Echoing a county-wide burn ban and the National Park Service’s recent ban on open fires in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (BSFNRRA), the United States Forest Service (U.S.F.S.) Daniel Boone National Forest (DBNF) has issued an emergency order restricting the use of fire on national forest lands. The order is in effect until further notice and took effect on Friday, September 27.
According to Stearns District Ranger Timothy Reed, campfire (and cook) restrictions on the National Forest have been put in place due to early season drought conditions throughout the area.
“Fall fire season is just getting started, but we are already seeing indices showing conditions of concern,” Reed noted. “It looks like it could be a long and dangerous fall fire season if the weather outlooks hold true.”
The Daniel Boone National Forest burn ban specifies that campfires in developed campgrounds and picnic areas are permitted only in existing metal or concrete fire rings and pedestal grills installed by the Forest Service. In the general forest area and in dispersed, non-developed recreation sites, campfires and open flames are totally prohibited. Forest Service regulations require that any campfire be attended at all times, even those in developed recreation areas where fire rings occur. The fire restriction order also prohibits the use of candles or any other open-flame device outside of developed recreation areas. Portable lanterns and stoves that use pressurized gas or liquid fuel and have a shutoff valve are permitted outside of developed recreation areas, but Forest Service officials urge caution.
Noting the DBNF has experienced above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation with an extended weather forecast not showing any relief over the next couple of weeks, Forest Management Officer E.J. Bunzendahl emphasized the urgency of the situation.
“Over the past several weeks, eastern Kentucky has received little rainfall, and no significant rainfall is predicted anytime soon,” Bunzendahl said. “The forest ground fuels are extremely dry, approaching record lows for moisture.”
Confirming Bunzendahl’s observations, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicates parts of eastern Kentucky have now reached severe drought conditions.
Penalties for those violating the burn ban order can be hefty. Anyone in violation of the U. S. Forest Service Order will be fined and may be required to appear in federal court. In addition to fines, any individual or group responsible for causing a wildfire may be held liable for fire suppression costs.
In addition to the ban on campfires, Stearns District Ranger Reed encourages the public to be careful with ANY ignition source.
“With our dry conditions and leafs falling fast, even a cigarette tossed out on the road could spark a fire,” Reed warned. “We ask that people follow the County burn bans and campfire restrictions that are in place. These restrictions are meant to help ensure the safety of our public and protect our natural resources as well as for the safety of our firefighters.”
The following is a list of recreation areas in the DBNF Stearns Ranger District where campfires are permitted only in existing metal fire rings or in pedestal grills: Alpine Picnic Area, Natural Arch Picnic Area, Hemlock Grove Picnic Area, Bell Farm Horse Camp, Great Meadow Campground, Barren Fork Horse Camp, Jellico Creek Dispersed Campsites, and Rock Creek Dispersed Campsites. Extra care should be taken to fully extinguish camp/cook fires within existing metal fire rings or pedestal grills.