If you’re planning on heading to the Coconino National Forest in northern Arizona to escape the sweltering summer heat, put those plans on hold.
According to a press release, the entirety of the Coconino National Forest will close to the public from 8 a.m. on Wednesday, June 23. Kaibab National Forest officials said the forest will also close at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.
Coconino National Forest officials cited ongoing forest fires, dry conditions and lack of manpower as the reasons for the closure.
According to the website wildfiretoday.com, the Rafael Fire, a lightning-induced fire near Sedona, spread east and northeast on Sunday and as of Monday morning it was 12 miles south southwest of Flagstaff.
The complete closure means that all public recreational activities, including camping, hiking and other activities within the forest boundaries, will be banned. Officials have not given an end date for the closure, but told La République that the reopening will depend on conditions, including enough rain to reduce the risk of a wildfire, in the days and weeks to come. .
Monday afternoon, Tonto National Forest is not expected to close.
What if you are currently camping?
The Forest Service said it will try to reach as many campers and campsites as possible to advise people to leave the forest before the closure begins. Only those with private property in Coconino will be allowed to enter with authorized personnel such as forest officials and firefighters.
According to the press release of June 21, all restoration projects will cease and concessionaires and outfitters who work in the forest will also be banned from entering. Violators of the closure and restrictions will be fined.
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