The closure shutters most campgrounds, trails, wilderness access and more
De ja vu.
That’s how it was this week when the Inyo National Forest got swept up in a state-wide closure of every National Forest within the Pacific Southwest Region of the USDA Forest Service (Region 5), which includes every forest within the state except one; the Bridgeport Ranger District (north of Conway Summit) of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (see additional reporting on this exception on p. 3).
The closure started at one minute to midnight on Aug. 31 and by Sept. 1, every campground on the Inyo, every trailhead, every dispersed camping site was vacated. Mammoth Mountain’s Bike Park closed for the season because it is on Inyo National Forest land; people’s backcountry reservations were automatically refunding by Recreation.gov, those still camping on dispersed camping sites were asked to leave and that – was that.
It was almost like old times and not in a good way, with the same thing occurring last year in September and for the same reasons - extreme fire danger. In fact, in this case, the closure came due also to a deep shortage of firefighters available to fight the ongoing, massive fires threatening so much of the state.
In some ways, it hit the Eastern Sierra even harder because this closure came BEFORE the economically critical Labor Day Weekend. It didn’t help that the skies have been clearer in the Eastern Sierra than in much of the state, either, making it even harder to swallow.
For the rest of this story, pick up today's issue of the Mammoth Times, out on newsstands Sept. 2, or subscribe to get the full issue of the paper on your phone, tablet or computer every Thursday by clicking on the E-Edition link at the top of this page.