CLOVIS, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — The U.S. Forest Service announced Thursday it has extended the closure of all developed recreation sites in California national forests due to COVID-19, including the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests, through May 15.
The closure affects campgrounds, picnic areas (including all tables and barbecue/firepits), bathrooms, water stations, paved parking areas and boat launch ramps.
“Closing any site for any reason is not one we take lightly, but protecting our visitors and employees remains our highest priority,” said spokesman Alex Olow of the Sierra National Forest. “We are working with our state and local partners to determine the best path forward to safely reopening closed sites.”
Hiking trails, areas that function as a trailhead for dispersed recreation and dispersed camping are not affected by the closure.
People should choose parking locations with care and park in a spot that is clear of the roadway while not causing damage to forest resources.
Olow said while the forests remain open for use, the Forest Service recommends complying with local and state guidance and not travel for recreation.
For more information on specific Sequoia National Forest information, visit here.
People that plan to visit area forests should be aware that:
- High-risk activities should be avoided — Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19. High-risk activities like backcountry activities increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided.
- No trash removal is currently offered — people are expected to pack out all trash and waste www.lnt.org
- All toilet facilities are currently closed — please plan accordingly. All human waste and tissues should be placed in a plastic bag and taken with you — Leave No Trace.
- Avoid large gatherings — If an area is crowded, please search for a less crowded location.
Forest officials would like to provide these TREAD Lightly principles to all visitors to the national forest:
T – Travel Responsibly, obey the rules of the road or trails
R – Respect the Rights of Others, please practice physical distancing
E – Educate Yourself, know before you go… www.lnt.org
A – Avoid Sensitive Areas – do not create your own trails, or parking areas.
D – Do Your Part – call ahead to determine where you can go. View the forest webpage
www.fs.usda.gov/sierra to become informed, use the interactive map to locate your destination.
COVID-19 resource links:
- Fresno County
- Tulare County
- Madera County
- Mariposa County
- Merced County
- Kings County
- Kern County
- World Health Organization
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- California Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response