Forest Service closes campground

Campgrounds and picnic areas on the San Bernardino National Forest are closed until at least April 30 under a US Forest Service order in response to the COVID-19 emergency.

The Pacific Southwest Region of the US Forest Service has responded to the shelter-in-place order issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom. Developed recreation facilities — campgrounds, picnic areas and yellow post campsites — are closed to the public until at least April 30 in an attempt to avoid groups of people and promote social distancing of staying more than 6 feet apart.

Zach Behrens, public affairs officer for the San Bernardino National Forest said the closure will affect several campgrounds in the Big Bear area and along Highway 38, many of which were set to open in April.

The Serrano Campground on the North Shore of Big Bear Lake, which usually remains open year-round, was closed March 23, Behrens said. Closures include all Big Bear yellow post sites, the Big Pine Flat Family Campground, the Hanna Flat Family Campground, Holcomb Valley Campground, Horse Springs Campground, Pineknot Family Campground, Barton Flats Campground, Heart Bar Family Campground and Equestrian Campground, San Gorgonio Family Campground, Buttercup, Bluff Mesa and Gray’s Peak Group Campground. Jenks Lake camps and picnic areas, Juniper Springs Camp, Arroyo and Oso are also closed by the order.

Picnic areas closed include Gray’s Peak, Meadow’s Edge and Juniper campgrounds. Some of these facilities were closed for the winter season, but may open later than usual, Behrens said.

The Grayback Amphitheater, which was set to open April 10, will remain closed at least until April 30.

Aspen Glen Picnic Area is closed. The nearby Pineknot trailhead is open, Behrens said, adding that he wasn’t sure if the parking lot would be open and would follow up with more information when it becomes available.

The move by the Forest Service is to aggressively mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by closing developed recreation facilities on the state’s national forests.

While designated recreation sites will be closed, the general forest area including the extensive trail system will remain open and available to the public. Hiking and walking outdoors are widely considered beneficial to maintaining one's health. Behrens said parking lots at trailheads in the Big Bear area will remain open for now except for Gray’s Peak trailhead, which is closed as part of the eagle habitat order.

It is the intent of the Forest Service to maintain trail access to the extent practicable. The Forest Service encourages the public to keep health, safety and the environment in mind when visiting the national forest.

Your personal responsibility is critical to ensuring public safety and preventing further restrictions. Consider whether your personal participation in outdoor recreation at this time would pose an unnecessary risk to others as we all work together to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19.

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