On June 21, Coconino National Forest announced a full closure of the forest beginning Wednesday, June 23 -- the first time that has happened since 2006. They cited public safety risks due to “fire danger, dry conditions and persistent wildfire activity” as the reason for the closure.
A full forest closure prohibits the public from entering any part of the Coconino National Forest at any time. In their announcement of the closure, the Forest Service said that “only those with private inholdings will be allowed access to their property, as well as personnel providing utility support where necessary, and firefighters performing their duties.”
Work on restoration projects will cease during the closure and partner agencies, concessionaires, permit holders and contractors are all prohibited from entering the forest.
Campers and visitors to Coconino National Forest are being told to vacate their sites before the closure begins, and personnel from the forest service will begin attempting to reach as many people as possible.
While there may be rain in various parts of the forest in the coming weeks, the closure is expected to last until there has been enough precipitation to reduce the risk of wildfire and until “hot, dry weather conditions are no longer forecast to continue.”
According to the Forest Service press release, “violating closures and fire restrictions is a violation that carries a mandatory appearance in federal court, punishable as a Class B misdemeanor with a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or up to six months in prison, or both.”