California Is Closing All Its National Forests as Wildfires Continue

2021 is shaping up to be the worst year for wildfires yet.

Wildfires have been burning up California’s landscape for decades, but things have gotten way worse these past few years. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, In 2020, there were 58,950 wildfires compared to the 50,477 in 2019. That translates to about 10.1 million acres of land being scorched in 2020, compared to 4.7 million acres in 2019. This year, in an attempt to curb the fires, the US Forest Service is closing every national forest in the state of California. The closures began Tuesday, August 31, 2021, and will extend through Friday, September 17, 2021, at the very least.

The Insurance Information Institute says 2021 is going to be another severe wildfire season. So due to strained state resources and weather conditions, authorities had no choice but to shut things down for the time being. This comes right before Labor Day Weekend, which is typically a busy time for the parks. Regional forester Jennifer Eberlien said in a statement that the decision was not an easy one to make. “We do not take this decision lightly but this is the best choice for public safety,” said Eberlien. 

Here is a list of closed National Forests in California provided by The Points Guy:

  • Stanislaus National Forest
  • Sierra National Forest
  • Sequoia National Forest
  • Inyo National Forest
  • Los Padres National Forest
  • Angeles National Forest
  • San Bernardino National Forest
  • Cleveland National Forest
  • Eldorado National Forest
  • Klamath National Forest
  • Lassen National Forest
  • Mendocino National Forest
  • Modoc National Forest
  • Six Rivers National Forest
  • Plumas National Forest
  • Shasta-Trinity National Forest
  • Tahoe National Forest
  • Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit

By closing the forests, the hope is to decrease a source that could accidentally spark a fire and minimize the number of people who could potentially get trapped in a national forest during an emergency. Eliminating these factors also aids in freeing up firefighting resources that have already been stretched due to the busy season.

According to the Forest Service, more than 6,800 wildfires have burned 1.7 million acres across California. The Forest Service has also cited that “the National Wildfire Preparedness Level (PL) has been at PL5 since July 14, 2021. This is only the third time in the past 20 years that the nation has reached PL 5 by mid-July, indicating the highest level of wildland fire activity.”

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Janae Price is a News Staff Writer at Thrillist. She's a native New Yorker and loves all things cheese, K-pop, and culture. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @janae_larie.