Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Emergency Closure Order Extended for CA National Forests

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2020 at 1:28 PM

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The USDA Forest Service has issued an Emergency Closure Order Extension  through Monday, September 21, 2020 for all National Forests in Region 5, which includes Mendocino National Forest, Klamath National Forest, Six Rivers National Forest and Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

"We understand this greatly impacts hunting season, which opens Saturday, September 19, 2020. We ask that you please abide by the orders in place for the safety of the public and the firefighters who are out working in the area," a press release states.

Read the full releases below:

Regional Emergency Closures – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q) Is there an imminent threat of fire, are we in immediate danger?
A) No, this is a preemptive and precautionary action. We are attempting to mitigate risks associated with heightened wildfire threat. Fire conditions and extreme weather forecasts have
elevated the risks of wildfire across the state. We are instituting these closure orders in an attempt to a) mitigate additional wildfire starts and b) provide for public safety should fires start and burn quickly under such extreme conditions.
Q) Where can I go to a National Forest?
A) Currently all National Forests in the Pacific Southwest Region are closed to the public by order. There are few exceptions to these orders for contract work and for access to private property.
Q) How long will these orders be in place?
A) These are temporary emergency closures. Orders will end on September 21 unless rescinded sooner or extended. We will be assessing the situation daily to make this determination.
Q) Which “developed recreation sites” are closed? Does this include private or concession operated sites?
A) All developed recreation sites that are managed by the Forest Service or private sites operated under special use permit are all closed with some local exceptions. Developed recreation sites included in the order are campgrounds, resorts, day use sites, boat launches, and ski areas.
Q) If I have a reservation that is cancelled, will I get a refund?
A) Yes, you will be notified through the recreation.gov system of your cancellations and a full refund will be processed. It may take several days for the refund to appear in accounts.
Q) What happens to those that refuse to leave when asked?
A) The closure orders provide for the lawful enforcement of closures and the USDA Forest Service’s law enforcement division may intervene.
Q) Are organizational camps and recreational residences part of the closures?
A) These are not explicitly part of the closure orders. You may remain on premises for maintenance of property unless directed to evacuate.
Q) Will special use permittees be compensated for their losses?
A) Because it is an emergency closure to provide for public safety and resource protection, the there is no compensation for loss of revenue.
Q) Can utility companies and other operations not related to public use and recreationcontinue under these closures?
A) Yes, utility operation and maintenance, along with contract vegetation management and timber work may continue as exemptions to these closures. Provided that the work activity is
within acceptable P.A.L. levels and within the scope of the fire plan.
Q) Can I drive to my forest residence?
A) Forest closures prohibit using roads and trails within the forest. Consider remaining at your primary residence to reduce the impact if evacuations become active.
Q) Do I need to evacuate my residence?
A) The local county sheriff is usually the lead agency for evacuations and will generally be the coordinating organization. You may want to check your local news and websites to find if there
are evacuation orders or warnings. If you are at your recreation residence, you should consider returning home to avoid an emergency evacuation warning or order.
Q) Where can I go for a day hike? Are trails still open?
A) All Forest areas in the region are currently closed to the public, including trails.
Q) If I have a permit to be on Mt. Whitney, is that permit still valid?
A) No, the Mt. Whitney area is temporarily closed to the public.
Q) Is this an evacuation because it sounds like it?
A) No, this is not an evacuation, it is a closure. This means that it is prohibited to enter onto Forest System lands, with few exceptions. People are being asked to leave the Forests in an orderly manner until which time the closures are lifted.
Q) My loved one is hiking the PCT and I can’t get ahold of them. Will a ranger track them down and give them the information? Can I call the ranger station and ask them to find my loved one?
A) Because this is not an evacuation, rangers will notify those they find hiking the trail of the forest closure and recommend they promptly leave the forest, but they will not be searching for visitors in order to ask them to leave.
Q) I’ve tried calling the ranger station multiple times and no one is answering, how can I get ahold of them?
A) All of the regional front desks are operating in a virtual environment. Like the unprecedented number of visitors to the forest, we are also getting an unprecedented number of calls. If you
do not directly connect with a front desk clerk, it is likely they are helping another guest. Leave your name and call-back number and they will respond to you as quickly as possible. You can also find the forest email address in the Contact Us section. It is often easier to direct your question via email and the forest representative will reply as soon as possible.
Q) Are you closing the forest because of air quality?
A) The Regional Forester made the difficult decision to close all national forests in California due to the unprecedented fire danger.  The numerous fires burning in California and the risk of new fires will continued to be critical for several more months. Air quality is directly related to the amount of smoke in the air and prevailing winds. Currently the many of our national forests and
their surrounding communities are experiencing periods of unhealthy air quality. Before traveling to the forest, visitors are encouraged to check on any active fires in the area at
inciweb.nwcg.gov for federal fire incidents, or https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/ for any
CalFire incidents. In addition, due to the many active fires you may find very smoky conditions
across the forest, so we recommend you check the local air quality at www.airnow.gov.
Q) We are using a smoker without an open flame; can we use still use it?
A) As long as the regional fire restrictions prohibit all ignition sources on California’s national
forests, smokers are prohibited. To read about the regional fire restrictions visit
https://www.fs.usda.gov/r5
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Kali Cozyris is the calendar editor of the North Coast Journal.

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