Rose McClure 0

End the closure of Sierra National Forest in Fresno County, CA

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On August 31, 2021, the US Forest Services (USFS) announced the immediate closure of all national forest lands in the State of California. Within Fresno County, this resulted in the closure of over 892,000 acres of public lands in the Sierra National Forest (SNF). Local residents, business owners, outdoor enthusiasts, and tourists of the region were provided zero advance notice of the closure. The USFS announcement was abrupt, and took effect immediately, thereby creating massive economic and personal hardship to hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of citizens in Fresno County.

The USFS stated that this closure would be temporary, with anticipated reopening of the Sierra National Forest on September 17. However, the USFS carries a prevailing and extensive track record of blatantly lying to the public about the real, planned scope of forest closures. For example, a "temporary" 2-week closure implemented by the USFS in the Sierra National Forest in September 2020 was followed by multiple extensions, and ultimately the closure lasted over 8 weeks. That closure caused hundreds of businesses within the SNF to lose critical revenue, which resulted in multiple business being closed permanently, sold or bankrupted. Additionally, hunters, campers, hikers, fishermen, and other outdoor enthusiasts who had purchased (expensive) licenses and permits to access the SNF for recreation were denied access, and denied refund of their advance expense to secure licenses and permits. Internal USFS documents that were later disclosed demonstrated that the USFS had planned the 2020 closure to last through October 31 all along - they announced a 2-week temporary closure publicly, while privately they planned from the start to keep that closure extended for over 8 weeks. Forest closures are becoming a habitual and abusive tactic used by the USFS. Please sign and share this petition now to avoid new and extended closures.

The reason provided by USFS for this current closure is "fire prevention" and "wildfire threat due to drought conditions." The USFS has claimed that closure is the only tactic suitable to mitigate the threat of fire and keep citizens safe. However, closure of a forest due to fear of fire, rather than an actual fire, is unprecedented and unconstitutional. While the USFS is contracted to manage the habitats within the SNF, the USFS is not authorized to deny citizens access to public lands, nor to singlehandedly impose restrictions that force closure of private businesses.

The current "temporary" closure is fully anticipated to be extended in the same fashion in 2021 as it was in 2020. Dean Gould, USFS Forest Supervisor for Fresno County, even stated in his August 31 announcement that the "temporary" closure carries a projected end date of Sept 17, and that date will be extended should the USFS decide that extension is necessary.

We, as the citizens and business owners of Fresno County, will no longer tolerate being shut out of our local public lands. We will no longer accept that the USFS may decide when we can and cannot operate our businesses, utilize the licenses and permits that we have purchased, and access the bounty and beauty of our local public wilderness, the Sierra National Forest. The Fresno County Board of Supervisors agrees and stands in solidarity with the citizens of Fresno County in making this declaration. Additionally, Supervisor Nathan Magsig is taking action to hold the USFS accountable to the reopening date that is currently scheduled to occur on September 17.

Please sign this petition to join the citizens of Fresno County in holding the USFS accountable to follow through on reopening the Sierra National Forest on September 17. YOUR VOICE MATTERS! We will share this petition with the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to support their efforts to oppose this, and all future, USFS closures of forest lands in Fresno County.


*** Please note: this petition effort is NOT gathering donations as no monetary contributions are currently needed for this initiative. The voice of the people is needed! If you use the donate button - you are donating to Donate if you want to! But please know that your donation is not going towards this specific cause. ***

*** Please note: if you would like to share your personal story of impact from current or previous USFS closure of the Sierra National Forest, or the Creek Fire, please contact Personal stories of impact will be added to the body of evidence to build momentum in exercising the full extent of local jurisdiction over management of public lands in Fresno County. ***

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