Four Southern California national forests on Wednesday are preparing to reopen weeks after being shut down due to increased wildfire risk.
The closures of the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino national forests will be lifted at 11:59 p.m., albeit with modified or updated fire use restrictions in place, according to a U.S. Forest Service news release.
“Several factors led to this decision allowing the closure order to expire,” Robert T. Heiar, the Angeles National Forest Service’s deputy forest supervisor, said in the release. “Although we remain in EXTREME fire danger conditions, the National and Regional improvement will help to provide the needed firefighting resources to southern California.”
All California national forests were first closed on Aug. 31 as brush fires raged across the state. Most were reopened early last week, but some shut downs were extended for another week as high fire danger persisted and large blazes burning elsewhere in the state created a temporary strain on firefighting resources.
This year is already shaping up to be among the worst for wildfires in California, with more than 7,400 blazes consuming over 2.25 million acres across the Golden State, according to the release.
California’s fire season traditionally extends through November, a month that has seen some devastating infernos ignite, such as the Camp and Woolsey fires of 2018.
In 2021, the Angeles National Forest alone has seen at least 180 brush fires either in or around its jurisdictional boundaries, according to officials.
But along with reopening, the Angeles National Forest is lowering its wildfire risk level from “critical” to “extreme.” Still, a forest-wide ban of any open-flame or certain spark-emitting equipment remains in effect.
And at the San Bernardino National Forest, which is slated to open Thursday, current fire restrictions prohibit a number of activities, including open-flame campfires and BBQs, smoking and target shooting.
“While the forest is reopening, we still need the public’s vigilance when it comes to preventing wildfires,” Forest Supervisor Danelle Harrison said in a separate news release.
Forest officials note that some areas may still remain closed, including some that have been shut down for an extended period of time due to previous brush fires.
Some restrictions will also remain in place at national forests to mitigate wildfire threat and prevent new blazes from sparking.
Before visiting, people are encouraged to take a look at their local forest website or social media pages for the latest information on current closures and restrictions.