California fires prompt closure of state's national forests

The US Forest Service issues an order temporarily closing the forests for public safety.

Rae Hodge
Rae Hodge Former senior editor
Rae Hodge was a senior editor at CNET. She led CNET's coverage of privacy and cybersecurity tools from July 2019 to January 2023. As a data-driven investigative journalist on the software and services team, she reviewed VPNs, password managers, antivirus software, anti-surveillance methods and ethics in tech. Prior to joining CNET in 2019, Rae spent nearly a decade covering politics and protests for the AP, NPR, the BBC and other local and international outlets.

A firefighter monitors a fire threatening the Echo Summit Lodge during the Caldor Fire near Echo Lake, California, on Monday.

David Odisho/Getty Images

Citing safety concerns for firefighters and the broader public, the US Forest Service issued an order Monday to temporarily close all of California's national forests to visitors due to ongoing wildfires. The closure will be in effect from Aug. 31 to Sept. 17 and includes all 18 of the national forests in the service's Pacific Southwest Region. The nearby Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which is not within those bounds, will remain open. 

"We do not take this decision lightly but this is the best choice for public safety," regional forester Jennifer Eberlien said in the service's statement. "It is especially hard with the approaching Labor Day weekend, when so many people enjoy our national forests." 

The service said more than 6,800 wildfires have burned 1.7 million acres across all jurisdictions in California since mid-July, while forecasts for the season are trending toward the same or worse conditions for the fall. 

The US National Park Service maintains an online list of California's national park closures and alerts, which is publicly available and regularly updated. Likewise, California's Department of Parks and Recreation has announced the closure, or partial closure, of several state parks and maintains an online list for public review. The department's latest update reports that as of Monday, seven state parks are fully closed and three are partially closed.