Following significant hazard-tree mitigation after the Donnell Fire, the U.S. Forest Service announced the reopening of Clark Fork Road. The agency said Fence Creek remains closed until more hazard tree work is completed.

“Logging operations began early this spring to fell and remove the many hazard trees left standing after last year’s Donnell Fire,” said Sarah LaPlante, Mi-Wok/Summit District ranger. “Although we had hoped to complete this work several weeks ago, the extent of the work needed, paired with the late winter weather, delayed the safe opening of this road.”

The forest in the area has changed considerably after the fire, the agency said, and visitors are cautioned to remain vigilant while recreating in the Donnell Fire footprint.

“Although you may access much of the burned area, it is your responsibility to make wise decisions and be aware of the many new hazards in the forest,” LaPlante said.

The Forest Service notes a few precautions you should consider when visiting the Donnell Fire burn area:

• Check with any Stanislaus National Forest district office for closed roads, trails or areas.

• Check the weather forecast for rain and or high winds, and avoid burned areas during weather events (aside from an increased risk of falling limbs and trees, you may face dangerous flooding and debris flows).

• Keep an eye on dead and fire-weakened trees as you hike, and choose open areas or green forest to stop and rest. Watch for large broken branches still hanging in trees. Dead trees kill people every year; take them seriously.

• Watch for signs of recent avalanches, mudslides, or rockfalls. Consider turning around and don’t stop in the path of these areas. Remember that burned soils are fragile and more likely to erode and slide, particularly in drainages and steep areas.

• Cell phone access is extremely limited in much of the forest. In case of an emergency, have a plan of action for how to get yourself help. If you do have phone access, call 911 in case of emergency.

• Leave your plans with a friend at home so they know where to look for you if you don’t return home.

Although Clark Fork Road is open, visitors should be prepared to find minor debris and dirt still on or near the roadway and should stay vigilant while driving, the Forest Service said. Some recreation sites remain closed as seasonal opening operations continue, LaPlante added.

“We have been working with the permit holders and campground concessionaires that operate on Clark Fork Road, and most are open and beginning to operate,” she said.

To learn more about open and closed roads, trails and campgrounds, visit go.usa.gov/xyx6e, or visit any ranger district office front desk as you head for the wilderness. The Stanislaus supervisor’s office number is 532-3671; the Calaveras Ranger District number is 795-1381; Groveland Ranger District is 962-7825; and the Summit Ranger District number is 965-3434.

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