California's Biggest Landowner Closes Forests to Public

Sierra Pacific Industries cites wildfire risk
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2022 2:17 PM CDT
California's Biggest Landowner Closes Forests to Public
A redwood forest in central California.   (Getty Images/Robby Sheets)

(Newser) – Sierra Pacific Industries, the largest private landowner in America, says its forest lands in California will be closed to the public starting Friday. The company, which owns 2.33 million acres of land in California, Oregon, and Washington, normally allows the public to use land that isn't being actively logged for activities like hiking and hunting, but its holdings are now off-limits indefinitely, SFGate reports. The company cited extreme drought and the risk of wildfires. "Public roads that are on SPI forestlands will remain open, but no walk-in access will be allowed," the company said in a statement on its website.

SPI has closed its lands repeatedly in recent years due to the risk of wildfires. The US Forest Service has also closed some forests in California at times over the last two years, but no closures have been announced so far this year. the Sacramento Bee reports. SPI became the biggest private US landholder last year with the acquisition of Seneca Jones Timber. In a Land Report profile of company founder Red Emmerson earlier this year, retired Cal Fire deputy chief Norm Brown said the company is "on the forefront of ­progressive fire prevention practices." "They’ve got an incredible network of remote automated weather stations throughout their entire holdings," Brown said. (Read more California stories.)

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