Officials at Joshua Tree National Park have put a number of fire restrictions in place while southern California continues to experience hot, dry conditions and high winds. The restrictions are necessary because the combination of those weather factors creates a growing fire hazard.
The decision to enact fire restrictions also comes after Mojave National Preserve, “our neighbors to the north, recently experienced the York Fire, which burned more than 90,000 acres of land,” Joshua Tree officials said in a statement.
“The fire restrictions will reduce the risk of fire, promote public health and safety, and protect resources during this time,” the National Park Service (NPS) explains. “These restrictions will remain in effect until October 1, 2023, or until park managers have determined that fire danger levels have subsided.”
Wildfires At Joshua Tree
Officials at Joshua Tree National Park, located just 37 miles outside Palm Springs, California, maintain records of wildfires dating back to 1945. Most of the fires occurred between May 18 and September 20 when desert vegetation was very dry.
“Though most fires in the park are started by natural causes, fires now spread faster and burn more intensely because of the introduction of non-native plant species,” the NPS explains. “Many of these invasive plants are fast-growing annuals that fill in the areas between shrubs. When they dry out in the heat of summer, these non-natives serve as a fuel source that allows fires to spread.”
Indeed, the invasive grass growth in Joshua Tree is currently three times greater than average, which significantly increases the risk of fires, park officials explain.
What The Restrictions Prohibit
The current fire restrictions at Joshua Tree prohibit wood burning and charcoal fires, including campfires, warming fires, and charcoal barbeques. Instead, park rangers ask visitors to recreate responsibly and use camp stoves if they plan to cook while at the park.
Importantly, liquid petroleum, or LPG-fueled, devices that may be turned off such as stoves, lanterns, and heating devices are allowed as long as they are used in an area that is barren or has been cleared of all flammable materials that are within 3 feet of the device.
The only type of generators that may be used are those that have approved spark arrestors. Also, they may only be used in areas where no flammable materials such as grass are within 3 feet of the generator.
As you would expect, considering the current conditions, smoking within 10 feet of vegetation is prohibited at Joshua Tree.
Finally, as a reminder, park rangers note that fireworks, explosives, and any other incendiary devices are always prohibited on public lands.
Know Before You Go
Joshua Tree National Park can be reached by car within a few hours from Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Phoenix.
The 800,000-acre park includes parts of both the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. Visitors enjoy seeing the rugged, desert landscape, as well as hiking, camping, photography, rock climbing, and viewing spectacular sunsets followed by incredible stargazing.
You can learn more about Joshua Tree and monitor current conditions at the park’s Alerts & Conditions webpage.
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