Czech police patrol Bohemian Switzerland on horseback

In efforts to prevent another devastating forest fire, police on horseback in the national park are making sure that tourists comply with regulations.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 08.07.2023 09:54:00 (updated on 08.07.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czech police have begun patrolling Bohemian Switzerland National Park on horseback, according to a press release issued yesterday. Their main focus is to ensure that tourists adhere to visitor regulations to reduce the risk of forest fires, especially a ban on smoking in the park.

In addition to the police on horseback, joint Czech-German patrols on quad bikes were also deployed last night, accompanied by a helicopter equipped with a thermal camera and drones. They aim to locate tourists camping within the park.

Under a fire warning from the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, a ban on camping in Bohemian Switzerland is currently in effect. Last year, a devastating fire broke out in the park by the village of Hřensko, and it took 6,000 firefighters to extinguish it.

A unit of mounted officers from Prague, consisting of six horses, arrived in the area on Friday. The officers on horseback set out in pairs along three popular routes in the Bohemian Switzerland area: Mezní Louky, Jetřichovice, and Kyjov.

"On these three busy routes, they will conduct preventive surveillance activities until 7:00 p.m.," Stanislav Krajčovič, commander of the special law enforcement unit in the Ústí nad Labem region, told journalists.

"The operation is primarily preventive, but if verbal warnings are not sufficient, fines will be imposed."

Park administrators have the authority to issue on-the-spot fines of up to CZK 10,000. Similar checks are planned throughout the entire summer season, but they will not be conducted on a regular basis.

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According to Tomáš Salov, spokesperson for park administration, tourists have been responsible for approximately half of the fires in the area since the establishment of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park in 2000.

This was also the case in the fire that occurred between Pravčická brána and the German border in May. Police have charged a man with general endangerment due to negligence in this case. Another man has been accused of starting the devastating fire last year. He faces charges of general endangerment and damage to property, with a potential sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

Since the beginning of July, tourist movement within Bohemian Switzerland is regulated by a traffic light system. It is based on warnings from the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute regarding the risk of fires.

"[The new system] was activated for the first time [yesterday] at noon, and it signifies an important notice for visitors that they are not allowed to enter the forest between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.," notes Salov.

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