Much of Stanislaus National Forest open for the first time since Donnell Fire

Panoramic view of the Donnell Fire in Tuolumne County

A view of the Donnell Fire in Tuolumne County of Highway 108 near the Donnell Vista.
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A view of the Donnell Fire in Tuolumne County of Highway 108 near the Donnell Vista.

The Stanislaus National Forest announced it will reopen the majority of its roads, trails and recreation sites to the public Friday for the first time since the Donnell Fire started in August 2018.

The Donnell Fire raged through the Stanislaus National Forest for almost five months before it was put out in December 2018, burning through 36,450 acres of land, destroying 54 structures and injuring nine people, according to the US Forest Service.

Access is being restored to “most of the land closed under the original order,” with the exception of a few trails and roads, Ranger Sarah LaPlante said in a news release Friday. A full map of road closures can be found on the US Forest Service road closure webpage.

The forest was originally scheduled to reopen in January, but Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Jason Kuiken extended the closure to May, citing unsafe conditions for the public.

“The original forest order was signed to protect the public from risk of hazard trees, the high potential for debris flow and the risk from rock fall and flooding,” Kuiken said. “New information about hazards in the fire area allowed us to reopen much of the general forest and many recreation sites, although some trails and roads will remain closed as we continue to mitigate hazard trees and do trail inspections.”

Kuiken warned visitors that the forest is more dangerous than it was before the Donnell Fire and visitors should be aware the forest has changed.

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