National Forests in California Closed Through Recall Election Amid Wildfire 'Crisis'

All national forests in California will be closed through the state's upcoming gubernatorial recall election as firefighters continue battling wildfires throughout the state, officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service said Monday.

The USDA Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Region said the temporary closures, which begin at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday and are expected to last through September 17, will be implemented "to better provide public and firefighter safety due to the ongoing wildfire crisis."

Officials clarified the closures do not apply to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, the majority of which is located in Nevada.

Caldor Fire National Forest closures
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service announced all national forests in California will be closed September 1 through September 17 amid ongoing wildfire threats throughout the state. Above, the Caldor Fire burns in the hills above homes on August 30, 2021 near South Lake Tahoe, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In a Monday news release, the USDA Forest Service explained the closures were intended to limit the risks wildfires can pose to people visiting national forests and avoid the potential for additional accidental fires.

"Due to state-wide conditions, any new fire starts have the potential for large and rapid fire growth with a high risk to life and property," read the release. The USDA added the current conditions facing the drought-ravaged state are expected to continue through the remainder of the summer and into the fall.

The USDA Forest Service's announcement comes as firefighters continued battling the Dixie Fire in northern California, which as of Tuesday is the state's second-largest wildfire in recorded history. The blaze began in mid-July and was still burning at 48 percent containment with more than 807,000 acres burned by the end of August, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).

Another of the state's 20 largest fires in recorded history, the Caldor Fire, was also actively burning in the South Lake Tahoe area as the USDA Forest Service made its announcement. The Caldor Fire began on August 14 and burned more than 190,000 acres by Tuesday, according to CAL FIRE.

By August 30, wildfires around California burned more than 1.76 million acres since the start of the year. More than 15,000 firefighters were battling the active blazes by the end of August, CAL FIRE said.

President Joe Biden approved a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration earlier this month to support firefighting efforts and affected communities. California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday declared a state of emergency in areas impacted by the Caldor Fire as thousands of residents were instructed to evacuate.

Wildfire is among the topics of interest to California residents as Newsom prepares to defend his seat in the September 14 recall election. Many of the recall candidates challenging Newsom in next month's special election have criticized the Democratic governor's handling of wildfire management and called for further measures to be taken.

Voters have also indicated their concern about the growing risks of wildfires in recent polls. In an Emerson College poll conducted earlier this month for Inside California Politics, respondents rated the environment as a topic of greater concern in California than jobs or education. An earlier Emerson College poll, reported, conducted in July found that while 42 percent of respondents rated Newsom's handling of wildfires as "excellent" or "good," 36 percent of respondents said he was doing a "poor" job, and 22 percent rated his handling of wildfires as "fair."

Newsweek reached out to Newsom's campaign for comment and will update this article with any response.