Since May 2015, more than 50 wildfires have ignited in Sacramento County Regional Parks. The majority of these fires burned in the American River Parkway. In response to the increasing fire danger, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved an urgency ordinance granting additional authority to the Regional Parks Department to restrict the use of barbeques and other incendiary devices in Regional Parks except in designated picnic areas. In addition, the ordinance makes it a misdemeanor crime to ignite, maintain or use a fire in any Regional Park facility without a permit from the Director. The ordinance is effective immediately.
“Fires in the American River Parkway are an immediate threat to public safety,” said Supervisor Phil Serna, Chairman of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. “The goal of this ordinance is to protect everyone who uses the Parkway, the neighborhoods surrounding it, and the public safety personnel who respond to the fires.”
During the summer of 2015, unseasonably dry conditions have contributed to an increase in fires along the American River Parkway causing the loss of valuable habitat that will take decades to recover. Most of these fires can be attributed to human activity.
In recent years, Park Rangers and other emergency service personnel have responded to many fires and medical calls due to the unsafe use of barbecue cookers in park facilities. In response, Sacramento County Ordinance 9.36.058 was amended on August 26, 2014 to prohibit certain activity related to fire and the use of barbecue cookers in Regional Park facilities.
Between May 1, 2015 and September 4, 2015 the Department of Regional Parks recorded 45 barbeque and campfire citations/warnings and 53 wildfire events ranging in size from 20 square feet to well over 20 acres. These events create an ongoing threat to the natural environment, vegetation, wildlife and visitors.
“The dry conditions in our Regional Parks mean that even the smallest spark can cause major damage,” said Sacramento County Executive Bradley J. Hudson. “These stronger rules and enforcement measures give our Park Rangers another tool to stop fires before they start.”