Feds Close All National Forests In California Through Sept. 17
Tuck the sleeping bag in the closet and put the tent back in the garage. If you were expecting to camp in one of California's National Forests this Labor Day weekend, you'll need to make other plans.
With swaths of California on fire — from the Caldor Fire near Tahoe to the Dixie Fire still burning in Northern California — the United States Forest Service Monday announced it is closing all of California's national forests to the public starting Tuesday, Aug. 31 at 11:59 p.m. The closure is in place until Sept. 17 but could be extended.
“We do not take this decision lightly but this is the best choice for public safety,” said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien in a news release. “It is especially hard with the approaching Labor Day weekend, when so many people enjoy our national forests.”
Also closed: The Pacific Crest Trail throughout all the affected forests. The Pacific Crest Trail Assn. on Monday advised all hikers in those areas: "If you are out there now, it’s time to start walking out to the trailhead."
The order impacts 19 forests that cover approximately 20 million acres. (It does not affect the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which is managed by a different division of the Forest Service):
- Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
- Los Padres
- an Bernardino
- Six Rivers
The Forest Service says the closure order will decrease the potential for new fire starts at a time when the West Coast's firefighting resources are stretched thin. The closure order also stated, "By temporarily reducing the numbers of people on national forests, we hope to minimize the likelihood that visitors could become entrapped" in these forests if a fire breaks out.
The closures were first reported by the Sacramento Bee.
The move isn't totally unexpected. Earlier this month, the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Southwest division, which covers California, Hawaii and parts of the Pacific Islands, announced it was closing all nine national forests in Northern California from Aug. 22 through Sep. 6.
This order does not affect camping in state parks such as Anza-Borrego Desert and El Capitan Beach or in national parks such as Yosemite.
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest among the National Forests being closed due to fire danger. That information was incorrect. Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest will remain open for recreation.