U.S. Forest Service: Safety reminders for the holiday weekend - Tucson News Now

U.S. Forest Service: Safety reminders for the holiday weekend

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

In observance of Memorial Day on Monday, May 29 the offices of the Coronado National Forest will be closed, according to a news release. Business will be back to normal on Tuesday, May 30 during regular operating hours. 

There will be fire and recreation personnel, as well as law enforcement officers on duty during the holiday weekend for the safety of the guest. 

According to the news release, forest officials are expecting a large number of visitors to the popular campgrounds and picnic areas during the holiday weekend.  They are offering the following safety tips and reminders for an enjoyable weekend outdoors. 

Campfires, Smoking and Fireworks:

Wildfires have occurred in the recent past at all elevations on the Coronado National Forest, which is under Stage 1 Fire restrictions as follows:

Beginning May 24, and continuing until further notice, the following are prohibited:

  • Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, charcoal, coal, or wood stove fire, except within a developed recreation site, or improved site. 
  • Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter, that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials. (Smoking is prohibited in federal buildings including rest rooms.)
  • Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame. 
  • Discharging a firearm, air rifle, or gas gun, except while engaged in a lawful hunt pursuant to state, federal, or tribal laws and regulations.

Fireworks are always prohibited year-round on federal lands.

Visitors are encouraged to use extreme caution with campfires.  As stated above, fires are only allowed in metal grills and/or fire rings in developed recreation sites.  Additionally the area where the fire will be built should be cleared of all flammable material and have no flammable material overhanging it.  Firewood should be cut to fit within the grill/fire ring.  All fires should be thoroughly wet and stirred until cold to the touch before they are left for any reason or any amount of time. Recreationists should plan ahead by bringing plenty of water to be used to extinguish campfires.  On windy days campfires should not be ignited.  Smokers should dispose of cigarette butts in ashtrays and not discard them on the ground.

Wildlife:

Wildlife species are active, with issues involving interactions with humans occurring in some areas. Black bears, mountain lions, foxes and other animals have been in contact or close proximity with humans, sometimes resulting in injury. Several cases of rabies have been reported in southeastern Arizona.

  • Many wildlife species generally avoid people, but are attracted to human food and trash.  Visitors are reminded to “keep wildlife wild” by preventing and avoiding interaction with wild animals.
  • Maintain situational awareness.
  • Maintain a clean camp or picnic site.
  • Keep food items in airtight containers, and properly dispose of fruit and food scraps.
  • Stow food, pet food, trash and picnic coolers out of sight and out of smell-range of wildlife.
  • Utilize bear-proof food and trash receptacles where provided.
  • Wash and stow cooking utensils immediately following use.
  • Do not take odorous items (toothpaste, lotions, etc.) or clothing used while cooking into tents.
  • Keep pets leashed.                                                                                                       
  • Avoid contact with all wildlife.

Sightings of bears, mountain lions, and wildlife exhibiting abnormal behavior should be reported immediately to Arizona Game and Fish Department at (623) 236-7201, 24-hours-a-day, seven days-a-week.

Dispersed Use/Off-highway Vehicles:

Dispersed picnicking and camping outside of developed recreation areas on the Forest is allowed unless otherwise posted.  Visitors must provide their own water and pack out their garbage using the “pack it in, pack it out” principle. Off-road/off-trail vehicle travel is prohibited. Campfires are prohibited outside of developed recreation sites.

International Boundary Travel Caution:

Forest visitors traveling in remote areas of the Coronado National Forest in the vicinity of the International Boundary adjacent to Mexico are advised to remain alert to their surroundings as illegal smuggling activity is known to occur in those areas.  If illegal activity is observed, visitors are encouraged to contact the nearest law enforcement agency with descriptions of persons, vehicles, location, date/time and other pertinent information.  

Ranger District and Recreation Area Information:  

Ranger district offices will be closed on Memorial Day.  The Sabino Canyon Visitor Center will remain open for business.

  • Santa Catalina Ranger District (Mt. Lemmon, Sabino Canyon) - (520) 749-8700.
  • Nogales Ranger District (Santa Rita Mountains, Madera Canyon) - (520) 281-2296.
  • Sierra Vista Ranger District (Huachuca Mountains, Miller Peak Wilderness) - (520) 378-0311.
  • Safford Ranger District (Mt. Graham) - (928) 428-4150.
  • Douglas Ranger District (Chiricahua Mountains, Dragoon Mountains) - (520) 364-3468.

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