With prolonged drought conditions and extreme fire weather contributing to massive wildfires statewide, the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service announced the temporary closure of nine national forests in northern California effective Sunday, Aug. 22 at 11:59 p.m. through Monday, Sept. 6 at 11:59 p.m. A 10th forest, the El Dorado National Forest, was closed earlier this week.
The decision was made to better provide public and firefighter safety due to extreme fire conditions across the northern part of California and strained firefighting resources throughout the country.
The list of closed forests include: Tahoe National Forest, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Plumas National Forest, Lassen National Forest, Mendocino National Forest, Klamath National Forest, Six Rivers National Forest, Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Modoc National Forest. In response, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will close seven of its properties that lie within or immediately adjacent to USDA Forest Service boundaries during this same period to support emergency response routes, firefighting efforts and protect public safety.
“We understand these closures — even temporary — will significantly impact our hunters, especially with archery deer seasons opening this weekend in many parts of northern California,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham in a press release. “We have a public safety emergency and an environmental crisis on our hands with these wildfires. We thank hunters, anglers and others who cherish these public lands for respecting these closures and allowing firefighters and public safety personnel to secure these areas and help protect our wild places and our rural communities.”
Currently, there are nine major wildfires/complexes burning in California. The Dixie Fire is the state’s largest active wildfire and the second largest in state history, burning more than 714,000 acres across Butte, Plumas, Lassen and Tehama counties.
Nearly 13,000 firefighting personnel are currently deployed to the statewide wildfires, including out-of-state resources from Utah, Louisiana, Wisconsin and Washington, as well as the West Virginia National Guard. Cal OES has prepositioned firefighting resources in three counties – Plumas, Nevada and Sierra – in advance of incoming fire weather.
Governor Gavin Newsom has secured federal assistance through FEMA to ensure the availability of vital resources to suppress ongoing wildfires. The Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) also enables local, state and tribal agencies to apply for 75-percent reimbursement of eligible fire suppression costs.
To date, FMAGs have been secured for the Lava Fire (Siskiyou County), Dixie Fire (Plumas and Lassen counties), River Fire (Nevada and Placer counties), Caldor Fire (El Dorado County) and Monument Fire (Trinity County).