RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Riverside County Fire Department Chief Bill Weiser Thursday officially closed access to multiple outdoor recreational locations for the duration of Southern California Wildfire Season to minimize public safety risks.
The chief received authorization from the Board of Supervisors last week to implement the closures, a practice that began in 2007. The designated grounds are located mainly in the central and southwest portions of the county, and they’re expected to remain off-limits until at least November.
“Riverside County experienced heavier rain than usual this year, which has led to a larger grass crop,” Weiser said. “This creates a greater chance of large, damaging wildfires. I urge all residents and visitors to be fire smart and use caution when enjoying our beautiful outdoor recreation areas. Your diligence and vigilance helps keep our communities and firefighters safe.”
Wildflower and other blooms have literally saturated and covered previously open trails, especially in the western half of the county.
Wildfires in any of the locations that have been closed would be difficult to manage, given their terrain and remoteness, officials said.
The following sites fall under the county’s closure order:
— Bautista Canyon, southeast of Hemet;
— Eagle Canyon, between Lake Mathews and the county landfill, just north of Cajalco Road;
— Indian Canyon and North Mountain, around San Jacinto;
— the Ramona Bowl, south of Hemet;
— Steel Peek, west of Meadowbrook and north of Highway 74; and
— Whitewater Canyon, near Cabazon.
Officials noted that the Ramona Bowl will remain accessible between sunrise and noon daily, with the area prohibited to visitors any other time of day.
By reducing foot and off-road vehicle traffic in each space, the chances of a wildfire starting are slimmer, according to the fire department.
Closure signs have been posted at entry points to warn potential violators of fines and other penalties. First offenses usually result in a minimum $100 ticket.
Residents are permitted to come and go as they please.
The closures are usually lifted at year’s end but can be rescinded before then by the chief, depending on the timing of winter rains.
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