The Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department initiated its annual fire ban May 11.
“Given the abundance of rain we’ve received this year, we had a beautiful wildflower season in the parks,” said R.J. Cardin, Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Director. “As temperatures begin to rise, the parks are left with dangerous loads of dried-out brush on the ground that can ignite a wildfire with just a small spark. As a land manager, we believe implementing a fire ban at this time is the responsible thing to do to ensure visitor and park resource safety.”
A fire ban is initiated to limit the possibility of starting a brush fire, which could cause serious damage to the parks. The fire ban includes the use of campfires, fire pits, and charcoal grills; however, it is still acceptable to use gas/propane grills in designated areas such as the semi-developed and developed camping sites. Violation of this park rule, Rule 113, may result in a citation.
It is also important to note that during this time of year, the National Weather Service often issues red flag warnings across central Arizona to alert land management agencies that conditions are ideal for wildfire ignition. Should this occur before the fire ban goes into effect, park supervisors have been authorized to issue temporary fire bans to ensure public safety and protect the park’s resources. When temporary fire bans are issued, the information will be posted on the website, and park visitors will be notified as they enter the park. The parks will also stop selling firewood during this time.
While smoking in the parks is still permissible, it is discouraged due to the extremely dry conditions. If one must smoke, ensure all cigarettes are properly extinguished and placed in trash receptacles. A date to lift the fire ban has not been identified and will be determined by the amount of rain Maricopa County receives during the monsoon season.
The following Maricopa County parks are affected by the fire ban: Adobe Dam Regional Park, Buckeye Hills Regional Park, Cave Creek Regional Park, Estrella Mountain Regional Park, Hassayampa River Preserve, Lake Pleasant Regional Park, McDowell Mountain Regional Park, San Tan Mountain Regional Park, Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, Usery Mountain Regional Park, Vulture Mountains Recreation Area, and White Tank Mountain Regional Park.
Call 602-506-2930 or visit maricopacountyparks.net.