Forest Service closing ‘developed recreation sites’ to public in national forests

A pickup truck heads up toward the Figueroa Mountain Recreation Area in Los Padres National Forest in this photo from 2018. The U.S. Forest Service has closed all public access in California's national forests.

The Los Padres National Forest is closed to the public through Sept. 17 as part of an order that temporarily closes all California's national forests due to extreme fire conditions. 

In addition, Midland School in Los Olivos announced closure of its trail system until further notice, in support of the Los Padres National Forest closure.

School officials explained that the decision to close local trails is to assist with mitigating fire risk and to eliminate the need for public-assisted emergency response.

"Due to upcoming weather forecasts and the limited resources to respond in the event of a fire, we find this to be a prudent measure for public safety and the safety of our campus," Midland officials said.⠀

As it stands, all roads, trails, trail camps, campgrounds and day use areas in the Los Padres National Forest are closed at least through Sept. 17.

The Department of Agriculture Forest Service on Aug. 31 announced closure of the Pacific Southwest Region, which includes 18 national forests, as a precautionary measure. 

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“We do not take this decision lightly, but this is the best choice for public safety,” said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien. “It is especially hard with the approaching Labor Day weekend, when so many people enjoy our national forests.”

Through the closure, Forest Service officials aim to temporarily reduce the number of people in national forests to minimize the likelihood visitors could become trapped during an emergency, such as a wildfire, and decrease the potential for new fire starts as firefighting resources are stretched thin across the state. 

Further, forecasts show that conditions this season — including record-level fuel and fire conditions and fire behavior that is beyond the norm — are also trending the same or worse moving into late summer and fall, Forest Service officials said.

For more information and updates, visit Los Padres National Forest’s website at www.fs.usda.gov/main/lpnf/home.

Lisa André covers lifestyles and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record. 

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