Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Sierra Pacific Industries closes California forestlands to public access due to drought and wildfire danger 

Map: SPI land holdings in northern California

Due to extreme drought conditions across northern California and the associated risk of wildfire, Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) has closed its substantial California forestlands to public access. 

The closure began on Monday, June 21 and will remain in effect until further notice.

Sierra Pacific Industries is based in Anderson, California. The company owns and manages more than 2 million acres of timberland in California and Washington, mostly in California, and SPI is one of the nation’s largest lumber producers. This is the fourth time the company has closed their California forests to public access, including last year following the August lightening fires. This year is the earliest the company has closed their lands, which is being driven by extreme drought conditions. 

“The fuel moisture levels in our forests are the lowest we have ever measured for this time of year,” wrote SPI spokesperson Andrea Howell in an email.

The public’s use of SPI roads and walk-in access to their privately-owned lands will not be allowed. According to Howell, SPI will regularly evaluate the situation, however, it is anticipated the closure will remain in effect into autumn of this year. 

In April, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an emergency proclamation directing state agencies to take immediate action to bolster drought resilience across the state and declaring a State of Emergency in Mendocino and Sonoma counties due to severe drought conditions in the Russian River Watershed. 

Forty-one of California’s 58 counties are now under a drought emergency to include the Klamath River, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Tulare Lake Watershed and the following counties: Del Norte, Humboldt, Siskiyou, Trinity, Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Modoc, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Benito, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo and Yuba counties. 

For inquiries about the closure, contact the SPI California Public Recreation Hotline, 530-378-8274. To learn more about the company’s recreation access policies, visit http://spi-ind.com/OurForests/RecreationAccess.

The areas shaded in blue mark SPI land holdings.

Map courtesy of Sierra Pacific Industries

Photo credit: The scene near Berry Creek, California on September 9, 2020 – photo: Josh Edelson/the Ally