The U.S. Agriculture Department will close all California national forests Tuesday in a prolonged stretch to protect residents from raging fires, the Sacramento Bee reports. The announcement was made in an internal memo by regional forester Jennifer Eberlien. “I have made the difficult decision to temporarily close all [California] National Forests in order to better provide public and firefighter safety due to extreme fire conditions throughout the state, and strained firefighting resources throughout the country,” she wrote. The move, which will run through at least Sept. 17, will prevent residents from accessing more than 20 million acres of land through the Labor Day weekend as firefighters battle the blazes throughout the entire state.
Residents who enter the grounds could be fined up to $5,000 if caught, according to the outlet. “I do not take this decision lightly but this is the best choice for public safety,” Eberlien wrote.