Every national forest in California to temporarily close as wildfires continue to rage

Aug 31, 2021

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The U.S. Forest Service is closing every single national forest in the state of California due to the ongoing and very dangerous threat of wildfires. The temporary closures begin Tuesday night, Aug. 31, and will extend through at least Sept. 17. This is an extremely rare action for the Forest Service to take. It also closed the state’s national forests last year during what was the worst season of wildfires in California history.

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A combination of strained resources and peak conditions for fires has left authorities little choice. The latest meteorological forecasts also indicate no weather relief is coming anytime soon as conditions are trending the same or worse as fall approaches.

Related: Guide to California parks

This comes just ahead of the Labor Day weekend, when many visitors would normally enjoy the holiday spending time outdoors at one of the picturesque areas such as Sequoia National Forest in the Sierra Nevada mountains, or Angeles National Forest in the Los Angeles area. “We do not take this decision lightly but this is the best choice for public safety,” said regional forester Jennifer Eberlien in a statement.

Here are the forests that are now closed:

  • Stanislaus National Forest
  • Sierra National Forest
  • Sequoia National Forest
  • Inyo National Forest
  • Los Padres National Forest
  • Angeles National Forest
  • San Bernardino National Forest
  • Cleveland National Forest
  • Eldorado National Forest
  • Klamath National Forest
  • Lassen National Forest
  • Mendocino National Forest
  • Modoc National Forest
  • Six Rivers National Forest
  • Plumas National Forest
  • Shasta-Trinity National Forest
  • Tahoe National Forest
  • Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit

The closures could help in fighting and containing the wildfires because they reduce the number of people who could potentially find themselves trapped by fires, and remove a number of sources that could inadvertently spark new wildfires. They also provide some relief for the state’s firefighting resources, which have already been stretched to the limit by an incredibly busy wildfire season.

The Forest Service says 6,800 wildfires have already scorched 1.7 million acres of national forest land across the state. The huge Caldor wildfire currently burning has forced thousands of people to evacuate as the flames approach that popular destination. The resort town of South Lake Tahoe has been evacuated, and it’s expected that parts of nearby Nevada will also need to be evacuated.

Delta Air Lines issued a travel waiver for Reno last week due to smoky conditions, but that has not been extended so far this week. Delta, in a press release, said, “Due to wildfires in the vicinity of Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) driving decreased visibility and impacting airport operations, Delta has issued a travel waiver to assist customers who might be impacted.”

Several flights to Reno-Tahoe International Airport were canceled last week, but the fires do not appear to be affecting airports in California or Nevada at this time.

The closures do not apply to Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The majority of that forest is in Nevada.

Featured photo by Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.


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