Seven popular outdoor recreational sites in Riverside County that were closed during wildfire season reopened for public use Monday, thanks to recent and upcoming rainstorms.
“Recent and forecast rains have made it possible to reopen these hiking areas for residents and visitors to enjoy safely,” county fire Chief Bill Weiser said. “I am encouraging visitors to be not only fire safe while visiting these areas, but also follow state and local (public health) regulations.”
In June, the fire department imposed a general prohibition on access to the sites due to the “potential for large damaging fires.”
It has been a yearly custom, since 2007, to declare the grounds off-limits between June and December — sometimes longer. Each location, situated mostly in the central and southwest portions of the county, is remote and difficult for firefighters to reach when wildfires erupt.
By reducing foot and off-road vehicle traffic, the chances of a fire starting are much slimmer, according to officials.
The sites are:
— 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.
In May or June, the sites will likely go back under a closure order, meaning potential fines and other penalties for individuals caught wandering into them.
People who reside in or near the locations are permitted to come and go as they please, using public roadways, year-round.
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