Public asked to be careful in the forest this Labor Day holiday

Labor Day weekend for many is the last great holiday weekend for summer recreation, with camping, backpacking, boating and fishing.

Area residents and visitors planning to recreate in the Plumas National Forest this weekend are asked to be aware of current conditions and take measures to have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.

Ongoing drought conditions have many lake levels lower than average.  While all of the boat docks are still in place that were put in for the season, boaters should be careful while using boat launch facilities to avoid damage to the boat dock, trailers or boats.

At recreation sites where water is still available, campers and other recreational users are asked to help conserve water, ensuring spigots are completely turned off and to reduce use.  It is advised to bring sufficient water for drinking and cleaning for the trip rather than rely on water availability in the forest.

Most of the Plumas National Forest is under an Excessive Heat Warning issued by the National Weather Service from 11 a.m. Saturday to 8 p.m. Tuesday.  Even mountain temperatures are forecasted be in the upper 90s and up to 100 degrees this weekend into early next week with evening temperatures remaining warm.

People and pets should drink plenty of water and avoid strenuous activities when temperatures are hotter later in the day.  Try to find shaded areas and watch for signs of heat stress.

Fire danger continues to be extreme in the area and the Forest is still under Stage II Fire Restrictions.  Campfires are only allowed in designated recreation sites with a campground host present and inside provided fire rings.

Summer holiday weekends, including Labor Day, typically see an increase in abandoned campfires in the forest.

“With the increased and ongoing heat, there is a continued risk of wildfire as we go into Labor Day weekend,” said Plumas National Forest Assistant Fire Management Officer Mitch Wilson.  “We have been really fortunate this summer to catch wildfires while they are small, working with local partners like CalFire and volunteer fire departments.  We all need the continued vigilance of area residents and visitors to help prevent human-caused wildfires.”

To help prevent wildfires, it’s advised to do the following:

Before going camping, check fire restrictions in place and never leave a campfire unattended. Build campfires in designated fire rings, clear of debris and keep water and a shovel nearby. Make sure campfires are out and cool to the touch before leaving the area.

Consider alternatives to a campfire, such as a portable camp stove.

Smoking should only be in a closed vehicle or fire-safe area and always dispose of cigarette debris in some type of an ashtray. Check local Fire Restrictions for specific rules.

Do not drive or park in tall grass or on roads with heavy, fine fuel accumulations. Exhaust particles, hot exhaust pipes and hot catalytic converters can start grass fires in a matter of seconds. Also, maintain proper tire pressure – driving on exposed wheel rims can throw sparks.

Secure chains properly from trailers or other equipment.  Sparks from dragging chains, and exhaust from ATVs and motorcycles, can start grass fires. Spark arresters are required on all recreational and portable gasoline-powered equipment.

Carry firefighting equipment in vehicles, including a shovel, at least one gallon of water or one 2 ½ pound or larger fire extinguisher.  Report suspected wildfires by calling 911.

The Plumas National Forest has experienced numerous wildfires over the past four years.  If recreating on landscapes affected by wildfire this weekend, please use caution.

As wildfire season continues, anyone recreating in the forest should maintain awareness of available evacuation routes in case of wildfire and watch for smoke and emergency traffic.

Bears have been an issue throughout the forest this summer, impacting numerous recreation sites.  Area residents and visitors should ensure that food is secured and that there are not food items or smells that can attract bears to a campsite in search of food.

“The holiday weekend ahead should be a great one to explore the Plumas National Forest, especially enjoying the lakes and reservoirs,” said Plumas National Forest Recreation and Lands Program Manager Erika Brenzovich.  “We hope everyone has a safe and memorable weekend with family and friends.”

It’s always good for any forest adventure to make sure in addition to the right supplies that you let someone know where you are going, when you plan to be back and start with a full tank of gas.

For more information on the Plumas National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gov/plumas, follow the forest on Twitter @USFSPlumas or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/USFSPlumas.