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US Forest Service to reopen most of California’s national forests

All but five of California’s national forests, previously closed under an emergency order issued in late August, will reopen two days earlier, officials said on Tuesday.

The shutdown order will end at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, two days before Friday’s original end date, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Southwest Pacific region.

Forest-wide closures will remain in place until midnight on September 22 for the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland National Forests in Southern California due to “weather and fire factors” and a temporary strain on firefighting resources fighting fires in other areas of the state, the Forest Service said.

Additionally, the El Dorado National Forest in northern California will remain closed until September 30, the Forest Service said.

“We are constantly evaluating the weather and fire conditions in California, as well as the regional and national firefighting resources available to us so that we can keep the public and our firefighters safe,” said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien. . “Some factors are more favorable now, which is why I have decided to end the regional closure order. I would like to thank the public and our partners for their patience and understanding during these difficult times. “

On August 30, Forest Service officials announced the massive closures, citing Labor Day, the need to limit the number of people visiting national forests and the “record-low” conditions causing the fires to behave “beyond of the standard ”.

Officials said on Tuesday that changing conditions had led them to reopen forests, including:

  • More firefighting resources available due to falling fire danger in other parts of the country
  • Changing weather systems with the seasons
  • A drop in peak summer visits since Labor Day

The Forest Service said the public should continue to exercise caution when visiting reopened areas and follow all guidelines in place to prevent man-made fires.

Best practices include:

  • Track all trail and campground information, especially restrictions and fire closures
  • Camping stoves with a shut-off valve are generally permitted
  • Do not smoke or park in grass or other flammable materials
  • Pack up all the trash and leave with whatever you entered the forest with

Officials said the coronavirus pandemic remains a concern and visitors to national forests should keep at least six feet away from each other, should not congregate in groups outside of their families, and should follow all guidelines health.