With Los Padres National Forest facing unprecedented tree die-offs and dry conditions from the area’s prolonged drought, the Fourth of July presents its own set of dangers from campers, picnickers, and fireworks enthusiasts. Los Padres officials recently iterated that possession and use of fireworks — including “safe and sane” items like sparklers, fountains, and snakes — are strictly prohibited. In fact, all types of fireworks are illegal in unincorporated Santa Barbara County, and also the cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, Buellton, and Solvang, County Fire spokesperson Capt. David Zaniboni announced recently. “Safe and sane” fireworks are allowed in Santa Maria, Guadalupe, and Lompoc, but they may not be used outside those cities’ limits.
Recreational target shooting in Los Padres is also prohibited unless gun users have obtained a special use permit, and smoking is also restricted to within a closed vehicle, building, or Campfire Use Site. The forest is under a Level III Fire Restriction, which means campfires may only be lit in Campfire Use Sites, if at all, and a responsible adult with shovel and water must be on hand at all times. Lanterns and portable stoves are allowed outside the camp areas, but hikers must obtain a permit for them from Los Padres rangers. As with campfires, stoves and lanterns must be attended by a responsible adult able to put out any fire start.
Professionally fired off flashy, fiery, fully flammable fireworks can be seen late in the day on the Fourth near Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, Girsh Park in Goleta, Mission Santa Inés in Solvang, Lompoc High School, and Santa Maria Fair Park.