Due to extremely dry vegetation and an increasing fire danger, Los Padres National Forest officials announced that extreme fire danger restrictions will remain in effect through Dec. 31.

The fire restrictions will be rigorously enforced, and violators may face a fine of $5,000 or six months in jail or both, Los Padres spokesman Andrew Madsen said.

Under the elevated fire restrictions, wood and charcoal fires are prohibited in all areas of Los Padres National Forest, including designated campfire use sites, Madsen said.

Those with valid California campfire permits are allowed to use portable stoves and lanterns that burn gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel only within specific designated campfire use sites.

Campfire permits can be downloaded free at www.fs.usda.gov/lpnf, where the list of designated campfire use sites also is posted.

Recreational target shooting is prohibited in all areas of the national forest unless specifically authorized by a special use permit, Madsen said.

Hunting with a valid California hunting license is allowed during open hunting season.

Smoking is prohibited in all areas of Los Padres National Forest except within an enclosed vehicle, building or designated campfire use site.

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No internal or external combustion engine may be operated without a properly installed spark-arresting device that has been maintained and is in effective working order. Internal-combustion vehicles are allowed only on roads and trails specifically designated for such use.

Madsen said that restriction is in effect year-round.

For more information, contact the Santa Lucia Ranger District office at 1616 N. Carlotti Drive in Santa Maria at 805-925-9538 or the Santa Barbara Ranger District office at 3505 Paradise Road in Santa Barbara at 805-967-3481.

This report was compiled by Mike Hodgson, associate editor for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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News Editor

Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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