National Forest Closure Extended Until Next Week Due to Fire Conditions
Update by Los Padres National Forest
September 15, 2021
Los Padres National Forest officials today announced that the current forest-wide emergency closure order has been extended through midnight on Sept. 22. The Angeles, Cleveland and San Bernardino National Forests are also extending their forest-wide closures through midnight on Sept. 22.
The Regional Order that closed public access to all national forests in California through Sept. 17 will be rescinded today. Due to ongoing high fire danger and active wildfires across the West, the Southern California national forests will remain closed for another week to better provide for public and firefighter safety. Large numbers of fire personnel from the Southern California national forests are demobilizing and returning to their home units after weeks of nonstop work.
By temporarily reducing the numbers of people on the Forest, this Closure Order will minimize the likelihood that visitors could become entrapped during an emergency and decrease the potential for new fire starts at a time of extremely limited firefighting resources. Severe and persistent drought due to hot and dry weather has led to rapid growth and increasingly unpredictable fire behavior across Northern California with no relief expected until late fall. Conditions in Southern California are similar and likely to worsen.
Currently, there are 11 large uncontained fires burning on National Forest System lands statewide, and there are more than 15,000 personnel, 303 crews, and 1,113 engines committed to fire fighting in California. This Closure Order is intended to reduce the likelihood of a new fire start over the next week.
Los Padres officials wish to thank the public for the patience and understanding that has been shown during this challenging fire season. For more information, please visit the Forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/lpnf.
Source: USDA Forest Service
August 31, 2021
To better provide public and firefighter safety due to the ongoing California wildfire crisis, USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region is announcing a temporary closure of all National Forests in California.
This closure will be in effect from Aug. 31, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. through September 17, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. This order does not affect the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which is not in the Pacific Southwest Region.
“We do not take this decision lightly but this is the best choice for public safety,” said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien. “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:
1. By temporarily reducing the numbers of people on national forests, we hope to minimize the likelihood that visitors could become entrapped on National Forest System lands during emergency circumstances.
2. The closure order will also decrease the potential for new fire starts at a time of extremely limited firefighting resources, and enhance firefighter and community safety by limiting exposure that occurs in public evacuation situations, especially as COVID-19 continues to impact human health and strain hospital resources.
3. Due to state-wide conditions, any new fire starts have the potential for large and rapid fire growth with a high risk to life and property. The Forest Service and our partners are absolutely doing all we can to fight these fires and will continue to do so, but the conditions dictate the need for this region-wide closure order.
4. Forecasts show that conditions this season are trending the same or worse as we move into late summer and fall.
5. Although the potential for large fires and risk to life and property is not new, what is different is that we are facing: (a) record level fuel and fire conditions; (b) fire behavior that is beyond the norm of our experience and models such as large, quick runs in the night; (c) significantly limited initial attack resources, suppression resources, and Incident Command Teams to combat new fire starts and new large fires; and (d) no predicted weather relief for an extended period of time into the late fall.
The following persons are exempt from this Order:
1. 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.
2. Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force in the performance of an official duty.
3. Persons with a Forest Service special use authorization for an electric transmission line, an oil or gas pipeline, communications site, or any other non-recreation special use.
4. Commercial recreational special-use permit holders and their customers are not exempt from this Order. However, commercial recreational special-use permit holders, under the terms and conditions of their permit, may access their permit areas to conduct administrative functions and to protect property and related assets. Recreation residence permit holders are not exempt from this Order.
5. Persons with a Forest Service non-special-use written authorization to conduct nonrecreational activities, such as harvesting timber or forest products, or grazing livestock.
6. Owners or lessees of land, and residents of such private landholdings, to the extent necessary to access their land.
7. Persons engaged in a business, trade, or occupation are not exempt from the prohibitions listed above, but may use National Forest System roads to the extent necessary to carry out their business, trade, or occupation.
More than 6,800 wildfires have burned 1.7 million acres across all jurisdictions in California, and the National Wildfire Preparedness Level (PL) has been at PL5 since July 14, 2021, only the third time in the past 20 years that the nation has reached PL 5 by mid-July – indicating the highest level of wildland fire activity.
The Forest Service thanks our partners and the public for their cooperation and understanding of this extreme public safety and fire threat. Citizens with specific questions within their area should consult their local forest website or social media pages for more information.