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Eight Santa Barbara County Residents Banned from National Forests for One Year for Violating Fire Restrictions

US Forest Service 2 December 2008

GOLETA, CA - Eight Santa Barbara County residents have been banned from all National Forests for a period of one year after pleading guilty in Federal Court to violating fire restrictions in Los Padres National Forest, the Forest Service announced today. The eight also received fines ranging from $200 to $300 during their November 21st court appearance in Santa Barbara.

Five of the eight pled guilty to “building, maintaining or attending” a campfire. The offenses occurred at Upper Oso Campground and Cachuma Campground on the Santa Barbara Ranger District. Three pled guilty to illegal target shooting at the Arroyo Burro target shooting area on East Camino Cielo. Campfires, charcoal barbecues and target shooting have been prohibited in all areas of Los Padres National Forest since the Forest Service increased fire restrictions on July 18.

“We have just experienced a catastrophic wildfire season and are very fortunate that none of these violations resulted in a wildfire,” said Ron Pugh, Special Agent in Charge for the Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service. “We greatly appreciate the federal magistrate's decision in these cases and hope this sends a clear message that violating fire restrictions in the national forest is a serious matter and will not be tolerated.”

The three largest human-caused fires this year in Los Padres National Forest --- the Indians, Gap and Chalk --- together burned almost 103,000 acres and cost over $72 million to suppress. The damage these fires caused to natural resources is still being tallied. The Gap Fire above Goleta was determined to be arson-caused; the Indians Fire in Monterey County was the result of a campfire and is still under investigation; the Chalk Fire near the southern Big Sur Coast, while known to be human-caused, is still under investigation.

The seasonal ban on target shooting, wood campfires and charcoal barbecues in Los Padres National Forest will be lifted on December 5, as the Forest Service transitions from “high fire season” to “low fire season.” Forest Supervisor Peggy Hernandez issued a reminder that some fire restrictions will remain in effect over the winter and all forest visitors are encouraged to “know before you go.” For more information about current conditions and fire restrictions, contact Forest Service offices in King City, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Ojai or Frazier Park. Information is available on line at http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/lospadres.

Los Padres National Forest encompasses over 1.76 million acres in Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Kern and Los Angeles counties.