A ban on recreational shooting in Los Padres National Forest has been extended through June 30 because of the potential for wildfires sparked by shooting, forest officials announced.
Despite recent rainfall, live fuel moisture levels across the forest did not significantly recover and are hovering just above the 60 percent critical threshold. Weather forecasts indicate persistent, strong offshore winds through April that will likely further reduce fuel moisture levels, they added.
Long-range weather models have consistently shown well below normal precipitation and drier than average weather with a high likelihood of elevated temperatures through the spring months. If these forecasts are accurate, grasses will cure earlier than normal and grass fire activity could occur weeks earlier this year, officials said.
These conditions allow fire to burn readily and remain present in the larger dead and downed fuels in the landscape. Even with recent precipitation and cooler temperatures, live fuel moistures are slow to rise due to a state of dormancy in the brush.
Under this Forest Order, discharging a firearm is prohibited except in the designated target ranges at the Winchester Canyon Gun Club and the Ojai Valley Gun Club. People with a valid California hunting licenses are exempt from this order during hunting season.
A violation is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.