On Thursday, March 2, just hours after releasing a notice asking the public to be patient with “current forest conditions,” the San Bernardino National Forest was closed temporarily for public safety.
In the first notice, Forest Supervisor Danelle D. Harrison said, “We are working to address public safety and to assess winter storm damages. Due to limited access and deteriorating conditions, it will be several weeks before the Forest is fully operational. With communities dealing with lack of power and lack of resources, visiting these mountain communities puts additional pressure on already scarce resources.”
The first press release noted that the recent extreme weather has caused damage to infrastructure within the Forest and in and around mountain communities, such as downed utility poles and lines and damaged roads. Most of the Forest is also inaccessible due to extremely high snow accumulations.
Unsafe road conditions due to snow and ice, as well as warming temperatures, have created hazardous driving conditions, to the point where many roads remain closed.
This emergency Forest-wide closure is necessary to protect public safety in light of the severe winter storms that have impacted the area, causing California’s governor to declare a state of emergency for mountain communities in San Bernardino County. Roads are impassible in portions of the Forest and emergency response is difficult due to the extreme amount of snow that has fallen. Avalanches are being reported in the area.
Residents of communities within and neighboring the Forest have become stranded and are running low on food and water. State and local partners of the Forest are working to clear roads and conduct rescue operations.
This closure order will improve access through National Forest lands for first responders and those attempting to leave or access their homes, while minimizing the number of rescue operations that must be conducted. Additionally, National Forest staff resources are needed to address this winter storm emergency, leaving insufficient resources available to manage less-impacted portions of the Forest in the usual manner.
The San Bernardino National Forest thanks its partners and the public for their cooperation and understanding of this extreme public safety threat. For more information, visit www.www.fs.usda.gov/sbnf/.
This closure will be in effect from March 3, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. through March 16, 2023, at 11:59 p.m.