California's largest private landowner closes all forestlands to public indefinitely due to wildfire, drought danger

Mountain vista view near Burney, Calif.

Mountain vista view near Burney, Calif.

fusaromike/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The largest private landowner in California is closing its forests to the public indefinitely beginning on July 1.

Lumber giant Sierra Pacific Industries owns over 2 million acres of forestland across California, Washington and Oregon. The company, which is headquartered in Anderson, Calif., is one of America's biggest private landowners. In areas where SPI is not actively logging, the public can usually access the land for hiking, permitted fishing and hunting and cross-country skiing. But starting Friday, SPI's extensive holdings will be off-limits due to "extreme drought and wildfire conditions."

"This closure will remain in effect until further notice," SPI said in a statement. "Public roads that are on SPI forestlands will remain open, but no walk-in access will be allowed."

A map of Sierra Pacific Industries land in California.

A map of Sierra Pacific Industries land in California.

SPI/Handout

In recent years, SPI has taken to closing its lands to the public to mitigate fire risk. According to the National Park Service, 85% of wildfires are started by humans. The most common irresponsible actions are leaving campfires unattended, littering still-burning cigarettes, using malfunctioning equipment or outright arson.

The U.S. Forest Service also sometimes closes to lower wildfire risk, although no Forest Service lands are preemptively shuttered so far this summer. You can keep track of active Cal Fire incidents here.