As of Saturday, May 1, outdoor recreational fires will be prohibited at Maricopa County regional parks, including Buckeye Hills, Estrella Mountain and White Tank Mountain regional parks.
The Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department annual fire ban will run through at least Wednesday, Sept. 1, R.J. Cardin, Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department director, said in a release.
“This season, the department is aligning its annual fire ban with the burn activity regulations enforced by the county’s Air Quality Department. Under these regulations, the use of outdoor recreational fires is prohibited between May 1 and Sept. 30 within the boundaries of Area A, which includes all of our regional parks,” Mr. Cardin said in a prepared statement.
With 86% of the state experiencing extreme drought conditions, the vegetation in the county’s regional parks is extremely dry and ideal for wildfire ignition. As temperatures continue to rise, fuel levels such as dried grasses, brush and fallen leaves will continue to increase, Mr. Cardin said. The fire ban seeks to limit the possibility of brush fires, which could cause serious damage to park resources and visitor safety.
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 park 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. Parks also will stop selling firewood during this time.
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.
Campfires along the shoreline at Lake Pleasant Regional Park are prohibited. Those who violate the fire ban may be fined under Rule 314, Section 312.
To read the regulation, visit maricopacountyparks.net and click on Park News, then follow the link from the fire ban release.
Smoking in the parks is still permissible, though it is discouraged due to the extremely dry conditions. Visitors who smoke are asked to ensure all cigarettes are properly extinguished and placed in trash receptacles, the release stated.
While Sept. 30 has been identified as the fire ban lift date, it could be extended, depending on conditions in the parks.
Park staff will monitor precipitation levels and vegetation conditions in the parks throughout the summer to determine if an extension is necessary. In 2020, the ban was extended through Dec. 1.
For more information, call the department at 602-506-2930 or visit maricopacountyparks.net.