Due to the current California wildfire situation, the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region has announced the temporary closure of all National Forests in California. This closure will last from August 31, 2021, at 11:59 p.m., through September 17, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which is not in the Pacific Southwest Region, is not affected by this order.
Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlein said that “We do not take this decision lightly but this is the best choice for public safety. it is especially hard with the approaching Labor Day weekend when so many people enjoy our national forests.”
Factors that led to this decision include:
- We intend to reduce the likelihood of visitors becoming stranded on National Forest System lands during emergencies by temporarily decreasing the number of people on national forests.
- The closure order will also reduce the possibility of new fires starting at a time when firefighting resources are extremely limited, as well as improve firefighter and community safety by limiting the exposure that occurs during public evacuation situations, especially as COVID-19 continues to impact human health and strain hospital resources.
- Because of the state-wide conditions, any new fires that start have the potential for huge and rapid-fire growth, posing a significant risk to life and property. The Forest Service and our partners are doing everything possible to battle these fires and will continue to do so, but the conditions necessitate this region-wide closure order.
- Forecasts indicate that circumstances will remain the same or worse this season as we approach late summer and fall.
Although the risk of huge fires and loss of life and property is not new, what is new is that we are dealing with:
- Record-level fuel and fire conditions.
- Fire behavior that is outside the norm of our experience and models, such as large, quick runs in the middle of the night.
- The drastically reduced first attack, suppression, and Incident Command Team resources to tackle fresh fire starts and new big flames; and
- There is no forecasted weather relief until late October.