Access to a half-dozen popular outdoor recreational locations in the central and west sides of Riverside County were reopened Monday after a six-month closure to minimize public safety risks amid wildfire season.
“I am happy that we are able to reopen these beautiful recreational areas for everyone to enjoy safely,” county fire Chief Bill Weiser said.
In early June, the Board of Supervisors authorized Weiser to implement an order establishing fines for anyone entering the sites due to potential brush fire hazards. Since 2007, fire officials have sought and received permission from the board to shut down general access to the areas, while permitting residents to come and go without interruption.
Wildfires in the locations are difficult to manage, given their terrain and remoteness.
“Although long-term weather reports suggest a mild winter, our resources and personnel remain in a year-round readiness mode, and so should our residents and visitors be,” Weiser said.
The locations where the county’s closure order has been lifted are:
— Bautista Canyon, southeast of Hemet;
— Eagle Canyon, between Lake Mathews and the county landfill, just north of Cajalco Road;
— Indian Canyon and North Mountain, around San Jacinto;
— Ramona Bowl, south of Hemet;
— Steel Peek, west of Meadowbrook and north of Highway 74; and
— Whitewater Canyon, near Cabazon.
By reducing foot and off-road vehicle traffic in each location, the chances of a wildfire starting were much slimmer during the warm months, according to the fire department.
Violators who chanced ignoring closure signs and entering the areas faced fines and other penalties. First offenses usually result in a minimum $100 ticket.
The closures are generally always lifted at year’s end, but depend on the timing of winter rains.