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Most National Forests To Reopen In California, Five Remained Closed

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Sonora, CA – At midnight tonight, two days earlier than originally ordered, a majority of the 18 national forests closed for nearly a month due to dangerous fire conditions will reopen.

That will include the Stanislaus National Forest (STF), where fire officials stressed enhanced fire restrictions remain in place to reduce the risk of new wildland fires. STF spokesperson Traci Allen shared that while legally the forest will be open at midnight it could take a little longer to actually fully reopen. She detailed, “It might take all through Friday to get everything completely open, like all the gates. But campgrounds, wilderness, trailheads, and all the visitor areas will be open.” Allen strongly urges all visitors to call ahead to forest district stations to make sure areas are open, click here for the numbers.

As reported here, on Aug. 22nd the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region temporarily closed nine forests citing the dry conditions and high fire risk until Sept. 17th. That order did not include the Stanislaus National Forest. Then on August 31st, it along with all national forests in the state were closed ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend to reduce the risk of wildfire with no visitors allowed in the forests, as detailed here. 

Regarding the early openings, forest Service officials relayed, “A key factor in the decision was an anticipated increase in available firefighting resources to California due to fire danger lessening in other areas of the country.” They also cited improved weather conditions and the end to the peak summer traffic. Five National Forests will remain closed until Sept. 22nd most in the southern part of the state. The other closure is the El Dorado National Forest due to the still burning Caldor Fire. Its closure order is set to run until Sept. 30th.

With tomorrow’s opening, STF Supervisor Jason Kuiken said, “As we reopen the Stanislaus National Forest to visitors, I want to remind the public that enhanced fire restrictions on the forest are for public and firefighter safety. Thank you for your patience as it will take time to get campgrounds and developed areas open for public enjoyment.”  Below are the enhanced fire restrictions provided by STF officials:

  • Wood and charcoal fires are prohibited anywhere on the forest including campgrounds, developed areas, and wilderness areas.
  • A portable stove or lantern using gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel with a shut-off valve, is permissible only with a free California Campfire Permit, available online or in any Forest Service office.
  • Lawful hunting is permitted; however, no target shooting is allowed on the forest.
  • We encourage visitors to follow safety guidelines when visiting the Stanislaus National Forest.
  • Plan and prepare — know your route and tell a responsible adult where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles — pack out cigarette butts and burned materials from your camping area.
  • Beware of sudden changes in the weather or changing weather conditions. If you see a thunderstorm approaching, consider leaving the area. Fires started by lightning strikes are common.
  • Be careful of parking or driving your car or ATV in tall, dry, vegetation, such as grass.
  • The hot underside of the vehicle can start a fire.
  • Check frequently for dragging chains when towing trailers to avoid creating sparks that can cause a fire start.

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