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 the state. 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 reducing the numbers of people on forest lands, decrease potential for new wildfires, high-risk expansion of current wildfires, hot, dry weather forecasts, and extreme fuel levels and fire conditions.

There are exemptions to the 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 non-recreational 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.

So far this year more than 6,800 wildfires have burned 1.7 million acres across all jurisdictions in California, and the National Wildfire Preparedness Level has been at PL5 since that date. This is only the third time in the past 20 years that the nation has reached PL5 by mid-July – indicating the highest level of wildland fire activity.

Forest Service officials have expressed thanks to their partners and the public for cooperation and understanding of this extreme public safety and fire threat. Citizens with specific questions within their area can consult their local forest website or social media pages for more information.

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