Forest Service lessens closure area restrictions

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The Mountain Fire closure area has been modified to allow portions of Bonita Vista Road 5S05 and May Valley Road 5S21 for non-motorized use.

San Bernardino National Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron signed the forest order June 24, which is effective through Nov. 14, 2014.

“In a nutshell, what we’ve done is open a portion of Bonita Vista and part of May Valley Road to non-motorized vehicles,” said Public Information Officer John Miller. “This allows a safe way to get from the May Valley/Garner Valley areas into Idyllwild without having to go along Highway 74 and Highway 243.”

He said because Highway 74 lacks road shoulders in many places, crews surveyed May Valley and Bonita Vista for safe access for equestrians, hikers and bikers.

Certain actions, however, are still prohibited, “to provide for public safety and protect natural resources,” according to the forest order:

  1. Being on national forest lands within the Mountain Fire closure area (see map).
  2. map

  3. Being on any national forest road within the Mountain Fire closure area, except for non-motorized use of the forest roads shown on the map and listed below:

    a. Forest Road No. 5S05 from its intersection with the boundary of the Mountain Fire closure area at the northern edge of Section 32, Township 5 South, Range 3 East, and continuing north to its intersection with Forest Road No. 5S21.

    b. Forest Road No. 5S21 from its intersection with Forest Road No. 5S05, and continuing northwest to the Mountain Fire closure area boundary at the northern edge of Section 29, Township 5 South, Range 3 East.

  4. Being on any national forest trail within the Mountain Fire closure area.

Those persons exempt from this order are:

  • Any federal, state or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.
  • Anyone with a permit from the Forest Service specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission.
  • Owners or lessees of private land within the Mountain Fire closure area, to the extent necessary to gain access to their land.

The forest order also states, “A violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both …”

Miller said no other Mountain Fire areas are planned to open at this time. “The district will continue to evaluate it over time but we’re not ready to commit,” he said.

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