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Most Of California's Forests Will Reopen This Week But 5 Will Stay Closed

a creek runs is surrounded by trees
Trabuco Creek in the Cleveland National Forest.
(Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS)
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After announcing just before Labor Day weekend that they would close California's national forests until Sept. 17 due to fire danger, U.S. Forest Service officials announced Wednesday that they will reopen all but five of the state's national forests a couple days early.

The emergency closure order will end tonight, Wednesday, Sept. 15, at 11:59 p.m., two days before it would have ended, according to an announcement from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region.

But four forests in Southern California — the Angeles, Cleveland, San Bernardino and Los Padres National Forests — will remain closed through Sept. 22.

In Northern California, the El Dorado National Forest will stay closed until Sept. 30

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Firefighters put out burning embers from the Thomas Fire at the Los Padres National Forest north of Ojai on December 8, 2017.
(Frederic J. Brown
AFP via Getty Images)

Officials say these forests will stay closed a bit longer because of "local weather and fire factors, as well as a temporary strain on firefighting resources supporting large fires in other areas of the state."

The U.S. Forest Service decided to reopen the forests earlier than planned due to changing conditions including a drop in visitors after Labor Day, cooler weather and having more firefighting resources available.

"We are constantly 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," said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien. "Some factors are more favorable now, which is why I decided to end the regional closure order. I want to thank the public and our partners for their patience and understanding during these challenging times."

A campfire warning sign is seen in the San Gabriel Mountains near Azusa on June 29, 2021. 33% of California is now in "exceptional drought," impacting forests, campgrounds and other outdoor recreational facilities.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)

Officials are reminding visitors they still need to be careful when they visit forests and campgrounds in California as the fire danger is still high.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Pay attention to local information about trails and campgrounds, especially fire restrictions and closures. Generally, camp stoves with a shutoff valve will be allowed.
  • Avoid or at least be careful when you're smoking, parking in grass, using flammable material or doing any activities that could cause a fire to start.
  • Pack out your trash and leave with everything you bring in and use.
  • All services may not be available, so plan accordingly.
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