Drought could mean fire restrictions at Sequoia National Park

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Precipitation levels are only 50 percent of what they should be at Sequoia National Park. (KFSN)

The National Park Service is making way for Memorial Day visitors at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, while also battling dry conditions.

Rain and even some hail fell at Sequoia National Park, but even though the ground is wet, still very dry and potentially dangerous conditions.

The fog crept into the park Tuesday morning, blanketing its giant sequoias. As visitors head to the park to see the majestic trees, the National Park Service will be monitoring the grounds, testing for moisture in case they have to implement fire restrictions.

"It is drier in the park, and we're anticipating that as the summer goes on it'll get drier and drier," said Colleen Bathe with the National Park Service.

Precipitation levels are only 50 percent of what they should be at Sequoia National Park. If the grounds become parched, no wood or charcoal fires would be allowed in picnic and camping areas. If conditions worsen, all open flames would be banned.

Rangers are now letting visitors know when they come into the park that they need to be careful with any flames.

"If you're having a campfire, whether it's in the campground or outside of the campground, you need to make sure that it's completely out," said Bathe.

Visitors like Jake Thum from San Diego know all too well how quickly wildfires can spread, with 27,000 acres burned near his hometown.

"If everybody is already up there, it just makes it harder to get everybody out. If there's no restrictions already in place, I think it's just a good kind of baseline to have," said Thum.

While rangers keep an eye on the drought conditions, they're also getting ready for a busy Memorial Day weekend. They expect more than 30,000 people to visit, and they believe the lack of snow is helping drive tourists in.

"It's been a little bit busier than it usually is this time of year because we have a lack of snow, so people aren't intimated by having to put chains on," said Bathe.

Sequoia National Park rangers will be updating visitors on any restrictions on their website and in a newsletter as they enter the park.

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