All but five of California’s national forests will reopen on Wednesday after regional closures were put into place two weeks ago due to wildfires raging in the state, the U.S. Forest Service announced.
Forest-wide closures will remain in place and be extended until midnight Sept. 22nd at Southern California locations, including Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland national forests.
The agency cited local weather and fire factors for the extended closures in those areas, as well as a temporary strain on firefighting resources while supporting large fires in other parts of the state.
In addition to the four SoCal forests, the Eldorado National Forest in Northern California will remain closed until Sept. 30 under local orders.
“We are constantly evaluating weather and fire conditions in California, as well as regional and national firefighting resources available to us so that we can ensure the safety of the public and our firefighters,” California’s regional forester, Jennifer M. Eberlien, said in a written statement. “Some factors are more favorable now, which is why I decided to end the regional closure order. I want to thank the public and our partners for their patience and understanding during these challenging times.”
The agency said they’re reopening the forests due to an anticipated increase of firefighting resource availability to California as fire danger lessens in other areas of the country; regional weather systems and related climate zones becoming more variable as the seasons change, leading to less uniform conditions across the state; and peak summer visitation tapering off significantly since Labor Day weekend.
And, “We recognize the important role of National Forests to peoples’ livelihood and quality of life,” the Forest Service said.
Where weather and fire danger remain high, tailored fire restrictions and closures remain in place locally and may be added where necessary, the agency added.
Varied fire restrictions remain in place across all national forests in the state in order to prevent new fires from starting.
The Forest Service said at the time the closures were announced that although the potential for large fires and risk to life and property is not new, what’s different is the following factors: record level fuel and fire conditions; fire behavior that is beyond the norm of their experience; significantly limited resources and teams to combat new fires; and no predicted weather relief for an extended period of time into the late fall.
For specific information on closures and restrictions within your area, consult your local forest website or social media pages for more information.