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Forest Fires: All California National Forests are Closed, BLM Lands Appear to Remain Open

Last night the air started to clear—what joy to have AQI back below 40, and now it is near zero (ultra clean) because it is actually raining today at my place, a light drizzle... hooray! But whether any of it makes it over to the Livermore CA area or the Creek Fire area in the Sierra foothills... unlikely.

Later in the day, it cleared up to sunny skies in icky humidity with normal season AQI of around 40, but I’ll take that over the godawful smoke. I enjoyed my first bike ride (2.5 hours) in about two weeks—a double joy since I had decent physical energy and clean air! Being holed-up for 2 weeks inside the house has been a real downer. But my legs let me know that I’ve lost a lot of conditioning.


So much for photographing in the mountains! I wasn’t aware of this until today, so I am sure glad I didn’t head out. Even the Inyo National Forest is closed (White Mountains and Eastern Sierra), and that is a mainstay for me. However, the order for Inyo NF expires in 9 days, on September 25.

UPDATE Sept 18: the National Forest Service announced that permission to access certain national forests is granted again, see Forest Service to Increase Access to National Forests in California 9/18/2020. However, Inyo National Forest (entire Eastern Sierra and most of White Mountains) remains closed until September 25 (TBD what happens).
Nine National Forests in California remain closed: Angeles NF, Cleveland NF, Los Padres NF, Inyo NF, Klamath NF, San Bernardino NF, Sequoia NF, Sierra NF, and Six Rivers NF. This decision will continue to be reviewed daily with evolving fire and weather conditions.

UPDATE Sept 26: Inyo National Forest and others remain closed through September 30 October 8. See the latest California National Forest orders.

As yet, I am unsure whether BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands are closed other than a few localized areas (such as the Slink Fire near Coleville), but it appears that BLM lands near Bishop CA remain open, with certain restrictions. However, at this time of year, BLM lands are generally hotter than a pistol.

Accordingly, I may head to Utah for my autum work and shoot the Canyonlands National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National park, and other areas this year—if they’re open... gotta check on that. Would be a nice change of pace.

See also:

Forest Service Temporarily Closes All National Forests in California

Contact(s): Jonathan Groveman, (707) 562-8995

VALLEJO, Calif., September 9, 2020—Due to unprecedented and historic fire conditions throughout the state, the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region is announcing a temporary closure of an additional ten National Forests, meaning all eighteen National Forests in California are now closed. The closure of the additional ten forests will be effective at 5:00 pm today. These additional forests include the 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, and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. This decision will be re-evaluated daily as conditions change.

We had closed eight National Forests on Monday evening, Sept. 7, 2020. Explosive growth of fires throughout California during the day and late evening of Sept. 8th led to this updated decision.

“The number of large fires and extreme fire behavior we are seeing across the State is historic," said Regional Forester Randy Moore. "These temporary closures are necessary to protect the public and our firefighters, and we will keep them in place until conditions improve and we are confident that National Forest visitors can recreate safely. I ask all Californians and visitors to take these closures and evacuations seriously for their own safety and to allow our firefighters to focus on the mission of safely suppressing these fires."

The Forest Service thanks our partners and the public for their cooperation and understanding of this monumental fire threat. It is critical that all Californians and national forest visitors follow these important closures and restrictions for their own safety and the safety of our firefighters. Citizens with specific questions within their area may call their local forests for more information.

The Forest Service manages 18 National Forests in the Pacific Southwest Region, which encompasses over 20 million acres across California, and assists forest landowners in California, Hawaii and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands. National forests supply 50 percent of the water in California and form the watershed of most major aqueducts and more than 2,400 reservoirs throughout the state. For more information, visit

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