The Board of Supervisors Tuesday authorized Riverside County Fire Chief John Hawkins to close access to seven outdoor recreational locations for the duration of wildfire season to minimize public safety risks.

Since 2007, the chief has sought and received authorization to close the grounds — located mainly in the central and southwest portions of the county — from June to November.

“The potential for large damaging fires occurring this year may be enhanced by the extreme vegetation growth … throughout Riverside County,” Hawkins said.

The overgrowth stemming from last winter’s heavy rains could fuel major wildfires that would be difficult to reach given the sites’ terrain and remoteness, according to agency officials.

The following locations fall under the county’s closure order:

— Avery Canyon, along Gibbel Road, east of State Street in southeast Hemet;

— Indian Canyon and North Mountain in San Jacinto;

— Minto Way in Sage, north of Aguanga;

— Nuevo, east of Menifee Road and San Jacinto Avenue;

— Ramona Bowl and Bautista Canyon, southeast of Hemet;

— Reinhardt Canyon, north of state Route 74 and California Avenue in Hemet; and

— Whitewater Canyon, near Cabazon.

By reducing foot and off-road vehicle traffic in each location, the chances of a wildfire starting are much slimmer, according to the fire department.

Closure signs will be posted at entry points to warn potential violators of fines and other penalties. People who reside in or near the locations will be permitted to come and go as they please, using public roadways.

The closures are usually lifted at year’s end but can be rescinded earlier if winter rains come early.

–City News Service

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