JOSHUA TREE (CBSLA) — California’s national parks are bracing for a huge influx of visitors this coming holiday weekend, even as worsening drought conditions across the state are tightening fire restrictions.
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Fire restrictions are officially in place at many of California’s national parks, including Joshua Tree National Park in Riverside County, which saw record attendance in May with more than 266,000 visitors.
With the unprecedented vaccination campaign helping to end most COVID-19 restrictions and the mask mandate, this is the first long weekend in more than a year that many people will embark on a vacation.READ MORE: What To Expect As 'Supercharge' Storm Moves Into SoCal
“With masks and following protocol, I think we’re safe to come out and enjoy this wonderful weather and what nature has and what God has given us,” said Mary Beth Applebee, a visitor to Joshua Tree National Park.
Fire restrictions, including a ban on all campfires and smoking at any elevation, went into effect Thursday for much of California’s national forest areas. Los Padres National Forest has also instituted a 6-month shooting ban due to the high fire danger.
Forest officials are also warning visitors to drive only on designated roads or trails, and to not operate any welding or open-flame torch devices on national forest land. Fireworks are banned in national forests at all times.MORE NEWS: 'Supercharge' Storm Expected To Bring Heavy Rainfall To Southland
Fire restriction violations are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual, $10,000 for an organization, and/or prison for up to six months.