USDA Forest Service Temporarily Closes ALL National Forests for Public Safety

Takes affect tomorrow August 31,2021. Below are the exact words from the closure order

VALLEJO, Calif., — August 30, 2021. To better provide public and firefighter safety due to the ongoing California wildfire crisis, USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region is announcing a temporary closure of all National Forests in California. This closure will be in effect from Aug. 31, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. through September 17, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. This order does not affect the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which is not in the Pacific Southwest Region.
“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.”
Factors that led to this decision include:

  1. By temporarily reducing the numbers of people on national forests, we hope to minimize the likelihood that visitors could become entrapped on National Forest System lands during emergency circumstances.
  2. The closure order will also decrease the potential for new fire starts at a time of extremely limited firefighting resources, and enhance firefighter and community safety by limiting exposure that occurs in public evacuation situations, especially as COVID-19 continues to impact human health and strain hospital resources.
  3. Due to state-wide conditions, any new fire starts have the potential for large and rapid fire growth with a high risk to life and property. The Forest Service and our partners are absolutely doing all we can to fight these fires and will continue to do so, but the conditions dictate the need for this region-wide closure order.
  4. Forecasts show that conditions this season are trending the same or worse as we move into late summer and fall.
  5. Although the potential for large fires and risk to life and property is not new, what is different is that we are facing: (a) record level fuel and fire conditions; (b) fire behavior that is beyond the norm of our experience and models such as large, quick

runs in the night; (c) significantly limited initial attack resources, suppression resources, and Incident Command Teams to combat new fire starts and new large fires; and (d) no predicted weather relief for an extended period of time into the late fall.
The following persons are exempt from this Order:

  1. Persons with Forest Service Permit No. FS-7700-48 (Permit for Use of Roads, Trails, or Areas Restricted by Regulation or Order), specifically exempting them from this Order.
  2. Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force in the performance of an official duty.
  3. Persons with a Forest Service special use authorization for an electric transmission line, an oil or gas pipeline, communications site, or any other non-recreation special use.
  4. Commercial recreational special-use permit holders and their customers are not exempt from this Order. However, commercial recreational special-use permit holders, under the terms and conditions of their permit, may access their permit areas to conduct administrative functions and to protect property and related assets. Recreation residence permit holders are not exempt from this Order.
  5. Persons with a Forest Service non-special-use written authorization to conduct non- recreational activities, such as harvesting timber or forest products, or grazing livestock.
  6. Owners or lessees of land, and residents of such private landholdings, to the extent necessary to access their land.
  7. Persons engaged in a business, trade, or occupation are not exempt from the prohibitions listed above, but may use National Forest System roads to the extent necessary to carry out their business, trade, or occupation.
    More than 6,800 wildfires have burned 1.7 million acres across all jurisdictions in California, and the National Wildfire Preparedness Level (PL) has been at PL5 since July 14, 2021, 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.

The Forest Service thanks our partners and the public for their cooperation and understanding of this extreme public safety and fire threat. Citizens with specific questions within their area should consult their local forest website or social media pages for more information.

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Wildfire: Walker Fire

From the USDA Forest Service

Walkers Fire Information: 

Sequoia National Forest – Denise

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks – Mark Ruggiero

Walkers Fire ignites spot fires further north into the Wilderness

SPRINGVILLE, Calif. — August 23, 2021 On Sunday evening, winds caused the Walkers Fire to spread north, igniting spot fires further into the Golden Trout Wilderness. Fire officials are focusing their efforts on protecting the historic Quinn Patrol Cabin in Sequoia National Park. Forest Service and Park Service personnel are working side-by-side to coordinate fire suppression efforts across agency boundaries.

Early this morning, infrared-equipped aircraft estimated the Walkers Fire had reached 3,547 acres in size, with 38% containment primarily along the southern perimeter. Five hand crews and four helicopters continue efforts to fully suppress the Walkers Fire. With limited firefighter resources available nationwide, the priority will continue to be public and firefighter safety.

Smoke throughout California has limited aircraft use due to visibility. Fire officials are coordinating with local packhorse operations as an alternative for transporting equipment and supplies to the crews.

The trail into the historic Quinn Patrol Cabin has been closed by Sequoia National Park to stop the public from entering the fire area. Trail closure information is available on their website.

Wilderness trailheads located in Sequoia National Forest near the Walkers Fire remain closed under the Castle Fire Area, Roads, and Trails Closure.

Both Sequoia National Forest and Sequoia National Park are open to visitors. Know before you go and check for local fire conditions. Additional Walkers Fire information, pictures, fire history, and a map of the fire area can be found on Inciweb

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Video: 84 Mile Semi-loop Through GTW

Ready for a video on the Eastern side of the Golden Trout Wilderness? Back in June of 2020 a hiker ventured out on an 84 mile trek into the GTW. Beautiful grand vistas of meadows, the mountains, and more. Who’s ready to get outside!? Enjoy this video.

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Video: 3 Days and 2 Nights

3 Days and 2 Nights Into the Western Side of GTW

A group of people head into the western side of the Golden Trout Wilderness. They set up a base camp, do a day hike on the second day, and then head out the third day. Do you recognize any of the areas they travel to? Enjoy.

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Video: Preview of a 90 Trek Through the GTW

Preview of a 7 Day, 90 Mile Hike into GTW

With a lot of the wilderness being closed to the public this year for the western portion of the GTW, maybe some videos of users will suffice? See how this user treks through approximately 90 miles of the Golden Trout Wilderness in 7 days and leaves just before last years Castle Fire (SQF Complex) started. Enjoy.

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Most Roads Are Open for the 2021 Season

Road to Horseshoe Meadow on the Inyo National Forest

Sorry for the delay. The roads page has been updated to the latest information. Most of the roads are open as long as they are not within the Castle Fire perimeter. One thing to remember is a road could be open, but the trails may not be. An example is the Long Meadow Trail in the Mountain Home area. Bear Creek Road is open, but due to the Forest Closure Order the trail is not.

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Fire Restrictions

Image from USDA Forest Service

FOREST ORDER No. 0513-21-15
Sequoia National Forest

Pursuant to 16 USC§551 and 36 CFR§261.50(a), and to protect natural resources and provide for public safety, the following acts are prohibited within the Sequoia National Forest. This Order is effective from May 21, 2021, through November 30, 2021.

  1. Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire,campfire, or stove fire, except in open developed campgrounds above 5,000 feet in elevation.36 CFR §261.52(a).
  2. Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle.36 CFR §261.52(d).
  3. Operating an internal combustion engine off paved, gravel or dirt National Forest System roads and trails, except boats on a water surface. 36 CFR §261.52(h).
  4. Welding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with an open flame.

The full fire restrictions can be read HERE.

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Sequoia NF Closes Trails within Golden Trout Wilderness

On February 16, 2021, a Forest Order went into effect closing many of the roads and trails within the Castle Fire (part of the SQF Complex). This order carries out through the end of December, 2021. As seen in the photo above, this impacts many popular entry points into the Golden Trout Wilderness on the Sequoia National Forest such as the Summit Trail from the North Road, Jacobsen Meadow Trail, Long Meadow Trailhead, Lewis Camp Trailhead, Clicks Creek Trailhead, Jerkey Meadows Trailhead, and the Forks of the Kern. Roads leading to many of these trailheads are closed as well. Users wanting to go into the western portion of the GTW will need to find other means of doing so.

Read the full Forest Closure Order HERE.

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May 1 Snow Results are…..Bad….

Kern River Basin snow results for May 2021

Although many of the sites were not surveyed this month, what little is there shows bad news for the Kern River Basin. As of the May 1 survey date, the Kern River is at 0%. If we look at the US Forest Service snow monitor for California, which does use snow survey data and remote sensing by NOAA, you can see there really is not large masses of snow in the Kern River Basin. It is a dry year and reports of Giant Sequoias still smoldering from the SQF Complex in 2020 shows how dry it really is out there. Plan accordingly this summer and be water wise!

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April Snow Survey Results

April 2021 Snow Survey Results

The April snow survey results are in. If you are a native here in the central valley, you know it has been bad regarding the lack of rain and snow. It is the same story for the mountains. The Kern River Basin is at 29% of normal. Unless there is a larger storm system that comes in late, like there was in 2018, it is going to be hot, dry, summer again. Keep watch on water sources when you head out this summer along with any fire damaged trees. At least, if you are going to walk through the Castle Fire scar (aka SQF Complex).

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