Creek Fire: Sierra National Forest closure extended to November 24th

Some snow parks could remain closed until spring or even summer of next year as cleanup and repairs continue.
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Sierra National Forest is closed for cleanup.

As crews work to control what remains of the Creek Fire, efforts to restore damaged zones continue.

Road hazards such as burned trees and debris are being removed.

Fire lines once used to protect communities are now being erased to prevent future natural disasters.

"That involves pulling the vegetation that was cleared back onto the line to cover it and give it stability and to try to prevent erosion," said Creek Fire public information officer Tim Mowry.

To minimize risk to visitors, the Forest Service is extending its closure until November 24th.

This means snow parks will stay closed longer, and businesses in Shaver Lake are expecting to see fewer customers.

At Shaver Lake Sports, a lot of the profits come from the snow season.

The shop offers equipment rentals, and last year they also sold the most Snow Park Passes in all of California.

But now potential sales are on pause.

"That could really hurt our economy, being a small local business in a small local town," said Shaver Lake Sports Manager Dee Heirendt.

Up the hill, Tim Cohee, managing partner with China Peak Mountain Resort, says his team is working closely with the Forest Service for an early open.

He says the outlook seems positive.

They have a new, bigger, better snow system to accommodate the anticipated busy winter season.

"In 11 years of operations we've had six droughts, one fire and two viruses and here we are still standing," said Cohee.

Since snow parks and China Peak are currently closed, Heirendt is concerned visitors won't have safe areas to play in if they head up the hill.

She's worried people will wander onto private properties.

"People really, really want to play in the snow and if they don't have a place to go they'll end up in residential yards not knowing they are residential," she said.

For that reason Creek fire officials are asking people to stay away.

They've already had several close calls with drivers.

"Just yesterday there was a car that was sliding towards one of our personnel out of control," said Mowry.

Even though the Sierra National Forest will remain closed until the week of Thanksgiving some snow parks could remain closed until spring or even summer of next year as cleanup and repairs continue.
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