In a sign of improving weather and fire conditions across much of California, all but five of the state’s 20 national forests will reopen late Wednesday after being closed to all visitors for 15 days.
The US Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest region is set to reopen forests at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, two days earlier than planned said in a statement. “Some factors are more favorable now,” said regional forester Jennifer Eberlein.
“We are continually evaluating weather and fire conditions in California as well as regional and national firefighting resources available to us so that we can ensure the safety of the public and our firefighters,” she said.
In the past two weeks, including the long Labor Day weekend, hiking, picnicking and camping on Forest Service land – which includes parts of Popular Pacific Coast Trail – Banned. The Pacific Coast Trail Association advised hikers to leave the trail in late August.
More than 7,000 wildfires have consumed more than two million acres in California this year. The Dixie fire, the largest in Northern California, has burned nearly a million acres in the past two months and is 75 percent contained, according to the New York Times wildfire tracker. Several other fires are active in the state.
The Colony, Paradise and Windy fires were ignited by lightning last week and threaten the Sequoia Grove, which houses some of the world’s oldest and largest trees. resident in three surrounding areas Evacuation was ordered, and others were warned that evacuation might be necessary.
Although most forests will reopen, the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland national forests in Southern California will remain closed for at least another week. Others in the state, including the Eldorado National Forest in Northern California, will remain closed under local orders.
The Forest Service said those closures would be extended “due to local weather and fire factors, as well as a temporary strain on firefighting resources supporting large fires in other areas of the state.”
Officials cited a number of reasons for the initial opening, including reducing the risk of fire to the rest of the country, making more firefighters available, changing weather and the passing of extreme heat travel.
But the Forest Service cautioned that fire restrictions remain in place in all of the state’s national forests, and favorable fire conditions remain in many areas of the state.