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For the second time in two years, the Forest Service will close all of California’s national forests as it deals with an ongoing wildfire crisis, the agency announced on Monday.
The closures will begin at 11:59 PM Pacific Time on August 31 and are planned to run through at least September 17. Under the terms of the order, the forests are closed to all activities recreational and commercial with a few narrow exceptions, such as permit-holders conducting administrative work and owners of inholdings who need to access their land.
“We do not take this decision lightly but this is the best choice for public safety,” said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien in a press release. “It is especially hard with the approaching Labor Day weekend, when so many people enjoy our national forests.”
We made the difficult decision to temporarily close all National Forests in CA in order to better provide public & firefighter safety due to extreme fire conditions. This will be effective on Aug. 31 at 11:59 p.m. through Sept. 17 at 11:59 p.m. MORE: https://t.co/bm1dODBoLZ pic.twitter.com/QVLnyJSwGH
— Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region (@usfs_r5) August 31, 2021
More than 6,800 wildfires have burned over 1.7 million acres in California this year, according to the Forest Service. The state is currently battling a number of large fires, with one, the 191,607-acre Caldor Fire, forcing the evacuation of South Lake Tahoe as it torched forests, more than 600 structures, and a ski resort. According to the Forest Service, the region is facing record fuel levels and abnormally dry fire conditions; the agency hopes the closure will reduce the chance of new starts which could grow into large conflagrations.
In September 2020, the Forest Service put a similar closure in place, shuttering all 18 National Forests located in the state due to abnormally bad fire conditions.