Massive forest closures and restrictions announced for California

Campgrounds in all the state's national forests will close, and other prohibitions are being put in place, due to fire danger. Many Southern California forests are being shut down completely.

Posted: Sep 7, 2020 12:03 PM
Updated: Sep 8, 2020 12:42 PM

UPDATE: 12:40 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8 - The Lassen National Forest along with the Eldorado National Forest, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Plumas National Forest, and Tahoe National Forest, are the Northern California National Forests included in Regional Order No. 20-09. The order goes into effect on Sept. 8.

This order prohibits all camping except in wilderness areas and within 500 feet of the Pacific Crest Trail. It also closes lands to camping outside designated, developed campgrounds called "dispersed camping."

There are several exemptions to this specific order, including:

  • Persons with Forest Service Permit No. FS-7700-48 (Permit for Use of Roads, Trails, or Areas Restricted by Regulation or Order), specifically exempting them from this Order.
  • Any Federal, State or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.
  • Persons with a Forest Service non-special use written authorization to conduct non-recreational activities, such as harvesting timber or forest products, or grazing livestock.

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VALLEJO, Calif. – Eight of California's national forests will be shut down temporarily and all camping is closing down for all of the national forests in California. In additon, all of the state's national forests will prohibit any ignition sources, such as camp stoves and campfires starting 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7, 2020.

Most of California remains under the threat of unprecedented and dangerous fire conditions with a combination of extreme heat, significant wind events, dry conditions, and firefighting resources that are stretched to the limit, said the United States Forest Service (USFS) on Labor Day.

Due to these conditions, the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region is announcing the following temporary closures and fire restrictions to provide for public safety and reduce the potential for human-caused fire starts. They will go into effect at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Monday, September 7, 2020, and will be re-evaluated daily as conditions change.

Here is a list of the forests that will be closed

  • Stanislaus National Forest
  • Sierra National Forest
  • Sequoia National Forest
  • Inyo National Forest
  • Los Padres National Forest
  • Angeles National Forest
  • San Bernardino National Forest
  • Cleveland National Forest

The use of any and all ignition sources on all national forest system lands (campfires, gas stoves, etc.) throughout California will be prohibited.

In addition, all developed campgrounds and day-use sites on national forests in California will be closed until conditions change.

“The wildfire situation throughout California is dangerous and must be taken seriously. Existing fires are displaying extreme fire behavior, new fire starts are likely, weather conditions are worsening, and we simply do not have enough resources to fully fight and contain every fire,” said Randy Moore, Regional Forester for the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region.

“We are bringing every resource to bear nationally and internationally to fight these fires, but until conditions improve, and we are confident that National Forest visitors can recreate safely, the priority is always to protect the public and our firefighters. With these extreme conditions, these temporary actions will help us do both.”

An example of extreme fire behavior is the Creek Fire on the Sierra National Forest which began on Friday Sept. 4, 2020 and grew rapidly on Saturday, Sept. 5th. The fire made a 15-mile run in a single day and burned 36,000 acres, prompting evacuations and life-saving measures. By Monday morning the Creek Fire has grown to almost 79,000 acres. The California National Guard evacuated at least 200 people from Wagner Mammoth Pool Campground and assessed them for medical needs.

The Forest Service said is critical that all Californians and national forest visitors follow these important closures and restrictions for their own safety and the safety of firefighters.

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