Inyo Forest to remain closed until at least Oct. 1

Wendilyn Grasseschi
Times Reporter

Although there was some talk at the Creek Fire Community Conversation meeting Tuesday night that the Inyo National Forest would reopen to most uses this Friday, at noon on Wednesday, a notice came from the regional office that all central and southern California forests will remain closed for at least another week.

The Pacific Southwest region, called Region 5, is comprised of nine different southern and central California national forests, including the Inyo National Forest.

The reason was the extremely hot and dry conditions that are expected to continue into next week and, a continued lack of enough firefighting resources to meet the demand nationwide, according to a news update from the Inyo Wednesday.

“Over the past few days, the Inyo National Forest has been looking at options to re-open the Forest in a modified manner and we have shared that tentative plan out to various permittees, recreation residences, and at the Creek Fire meeting yesterday,” said interim Inyo National Forest Supervisor John “Pancho” Smith. “We were making a concerted effort to provide opportunities on the forest for visitors and to let our community be aware of what we were thinking as a forest.

“This morning, we received direction from the Regional Office that the Forest closure would be extended another week for the nine Forests that are currently closed. This includes the Inyo National Forest. I anticipate that the new extended closure orders will be signed tomorrow as the current order expires.

“The Regional Office decision is based on the continued hot and dry conditions that remain in the forecast for the upcoming week and continued firefighting resources limitations.
“We know that the closure affects our permittees who conduct business on the Inyo as well as other local businesses who serve the tourism industry and we know that this has been a difficult year for many reasons.

“We apologize for any confusion our early communication about the possible opening of the forest may have created,” Smith said.

According to Inyo officials, the situation will be re-evaluated next week. Until then, there is no camping, no recreating, no biking or driving on the Inyo National Forest. Areas around Mammoth that are Bureau of Land Management lands, or Department of Los Angeles Water and Power, are still open. There are NO FIRES allowed on any of these lands.