The San Bernardino and Cleveland national forests will be closed under an order issued Monday by the U.S. Forest Service closing all but one of California’s national forests due to the state’s numerous wildfires.
The order closing all the forests in the Pacific Southwest Region will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday and extends through Sept. 17. It is intended to help ensure the safety of the public and firefighters, according to Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien.
“We do not take this decision lightly but this is the best choice for public safety,” Eberlien said. “It is especially hard with the approaching Labor Day weekend, when so many people enjoy our national forests.”’
By enacting the closures, the forest service seeks to minimize the likelihood of visitors becoming trapped in a national forest during a fire, decrease the potential for new fires to start and enhance firefighter and public safety by limiting exposure to COVID-19 that might occur during public evacuations.
“More than 6,800 wildfires have burned 1.7 million acres across all jurisdictions in California, and the National Wildfire Preparedness Level has been at PL5 since July 14, 2021, only the third time in the past 20 years that the nation has reached PL 5 by mid-July,” the forest service said in a statement.
The only national forest in California not covered by the order is the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest which is not in the Pacific Southwest region.
Portions of the San Bernardino and Cleveland national forests are in Riverside County.
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