Big landowner closing California forests due to fire danger

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ANDERSON, Calif. (AP) — Swaths of private California forestlands will be closed to the public starting this week due to extreme drought and risk of wildfires, the owner announced.

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Sierra Pacific Industries said the closure will take effect July 1 and will remain in effect until further notice.

The huge lumber manufacturer owns more than 2.3 million acres (930,000 hectares) of forests in California, Oregon and Washington.

The company normally allows the public access to its lands for recreational purposes in areas that are not actively being logged.

"Despite some of the late spring rains, California is experiencing the driest conditions it has had in 1200 years," spokesperson Andrea Howell said in a press release Friday.

Sierra Pacific said it will regularly evaluate the situation but anticipates the closure will remain in effect until fall.

The company closed its California forestlands last year from late June until early October.

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