SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The U.S. Forest Service is reopening most of its California forests for public use Thursday — two days earlier than planned.
To combat wildfires burning across the state and aid a national firefighting workforce stretched thin, the Forest Service closed 20 million acres of its national forests in California to public use through the busy Labor Day weekend. The announcement, made at the end of August, was to extend through Friday.
On Tuesday, the agency announced it would rescind the statewide order at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday, as more firefighting resources from across the country were made available as well as an anticipated decrease in public use of the federal lands after the holiday.
“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,” California’s Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien said in a written statement. “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.”
However, Eberlien said five forests would remain closed for several days beyond Friday, including the Eldorado National Forest, east of Sacramento, where the 219,267-acre Caldor fire is burning and 68% contained.
Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland national forests in Southern California will remain closed through at least Sept. 22. Eldorado could reopen as soon as Sept. 30.
Fire restrictions will remain in place across all national forests in California, the agency said.
The Forest Service said some local forests may be partially closed due to fires that are still burning. The agency urged people to check with a local forest before venturing out.
More than 7,400 wildfires have burned at least 2.25 million acres in California so far this year, according to the Forest Service.
Typically, the most destructive wildfires burn in the state during the next two months.
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