Staff Report

Los Padres National Forest officials today announced that the forest order prohibiting recreational shooting in all areas within the forest has been extended until Dec. 31 to provide for public safety during increasingly dangerous fire conditions.

Despite winter and early spring rainfall, live fuel moisture levels across the forest did not significantly recover and are currently hovering just above the 60 percent critical threshold. Predictive weather forecasts indicate persistent, strong offshore wind events throughout the summer that will likely further reduce fuel moisture levels.

Long-range weather models have consistently shown well below normal precipitation and drier than average weather with a high likelihood of elevated temperatures throughout the summer months. These conditions allow fire to burn readily and remain present in the larger dead and downed fuels in the landscape. 

Preventing accidental starts from recreational shooting under dry conditions is key to protecting life and property. 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. Persons hunting during the open hunting season as specified in California law and having a valid California hunting license are exempt from this forest order.

A violation of this prohibition 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.