Ocean Beach Fire Ban
Gathering around the warm fire is a simple American pastime. Whether it is for a celebration, cooking meals or just for warmth, a burning campfire is a simple pleasure that anyone can be a part of. During the cold winter season, many residents in the Bay Area turn to their fireplaces for warmth. Due to the mass amount of fires burned, it causes a high volume of toxic air pollutants.
According to the Golden Gate National Park Recreation and Service website, on November 1, 2016, the Ocean Beach fire pits will be banned for a four-month period until the beginning of March 2017. Ocean Beach is located on the Western border of San Francisco in the Sunset district that borders Golden Gate Park.
This new ban was enacted by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District of San Francisco (BAAQMD) along with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD). This monitored no-burn season is to decrease the poor air quality that is accumulated which can be unsafe during the winter season.
Nathan Sargent, public affairs representative for the Golden Gate National Park and Recreation said, “this is to help the sustainability for the future of Ocean Beach.”
Residents, frequent beach-goers and elected officials were a part of the community council that came together to discuss the future of Ocean Beach. The result after a two-year period of open city council discussions about the ban, was the unanimous decision achieved in April 2015 to enact the new Ocean Beach Fire Program.
There are only a few select beachfronts that allow pit fires in the Bay Area. Ocean Beach is known for having pit fire accessibility that bring people from all over the world to this beautiful beachfront. Although there are benefits of this new ban, many residents are unaware of this new plan that is currently in effect.
When informed about the new no-burn season for the first time, local Sunset district resident Holly Phan expressed, “I’ve been living here for years and I had no idea this was going on right in front of me.”
During alarmed “Spare the Air Alert Days,” it will be illegal in the San Francisco area to burn wood or other debris. These days are considered unsafe and unhealthy conditions to be exposed to. Many residents with respiratory conditions can be susceptible to the consequences of excessive wood burning especially during these marked days. Spare the Air Day alerts can be accessed by phone or online at sparetheair.org.
According to Spare the Air in San Francisco Bay Area, “during the winter season, wood smoke is the largest source of harmful particulate pollution.”
Through recent years, there has been an un-spoken traditional practice after the holidays to burn old Christmas trees in the fire pits. The no-burn ban will help eliminate this alternative form of disposal of the trees. The Recology centers of San Francisco offer a free pick-up of Christmas trees that are then recycled into energy fuel that give back to the environment.
Also, newly active as of November 1, 2016, no wood-burning devices will be constructed in any new homes built in the Bay Area. Only the use of EPA-certified, electrical or gas powered burning mechanisms will be permitted. If someone is caught in the act of wood-burning during these alarm air days, they will be fined.
Concerned new-resident Eric Morrow expressed, “they are getting rid of the prime time to burn fires, everyone wants to burn fires to stay warm in the winter.”
This new non-burn season helps decrease air pollutants and promote a cleaner beachfront. While in effect for a four-month period, this gives the beach a break from being polluted with trash or covered with other debris. This ban also has potential to help save the health and well-being of many residents in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Golden Gate National Park Service plans to remove the all the pits on the beach to prevent possible no-fire violations and to thoroughly clean them for the upcoming spring season. This new implementation in the San Francisco area is one of the early stages of environmental preservation that will determine the years to come.
Along with this no-burn season, there are recent major issues being addressed concerning the sustainability and future of Ocean Beach. The Ocean Beach Master Plan led by urban design policy director, Benjamin Grant, is a plan that has been active since 2010 with the help of State Coastal Conservancy and San Francisco’s Public Utilities commission.
This master plan is to help with the natural and human-made erosion that is currently occurring on the beach due to climate change. This plan is projected to stretch until 2021 to help preserve the beach and restore the coastal ecosystem. This includes construction both on and off the beach while obtaining information for future research.
Both the BAAQMD of San Francisco and the SFRPD services hope to see a great difference in air quality during this new season and bring environmental awareness to not only the locals but the larger San Francisco Bay Area. If there is a significant change recorded after this season, there could be potential to continue this no-burn season next year.
As humans we all share the world as our own space. Not everyone realizes how the use of resources in mass can take great effect on world. By educating one another on the issues as simple as not lighting a fire every night of the week, can start to help reducing pollution. Small changes now can aid the world to conserve resources for the future.
Sargent explained the entirety of the ban as, “it’s not goodbye to the fire pits at Ocean Beach, it’s just a see you later.”
For more information about this current event and regulations call (415) 561-4700 or visit http://www.nps.gov/goga/learn/management/OBfireprogram.htm.