The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino National Forest:
Several roads into Mendocino National Forest have experienced severe damage after this winter’s series of storms, and visitors should prepare for limited access to recreation areas this Memorial Day weekend.
“Visitors should recognize the inherent risks of recreating outdoors, especially after natural disasters,” said Mendocino National Forest Supervisor Wade McMaster.
“Road conditions, which are always dynamic, are especially changed given the post-fire hazards and storm damage. New reports are coming in every day from our crews and field staff of downed trees, plugged culverts and washouts.”
In areas where wildfire has occurred, significant rainfall and wind create hazards. Roads within the August Complex and Ranch Fire footprints are subject to falling trees, landslides, rockfall, erosion, debris flows and flooding.
The M10 Road is impassable west of Fouts Campground. The road experienced multiple slides, rockfall and hillslope failure after prolonged winter storms. There is access to the Letts Lake Campground from the east via the M5 Road and 17N02 Road, a detour that adds about 2 hours additional driving time. The 17N02 Road has lingering snowpack, and forest officials recommend driving high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles only. Trailers and RVs are not advised.
The road issues will also impact maintenance this summer. There will be no trash service or water supply at Letts Lake Campground until the M10 Road is repaired. The front portion of the campground will be open for primitive camping.
The M5 Road at the 17N02 Junction to Cedar Camp is also closed for the season due to several slides, blowdown and unstable roadbed.
Elk Mountain Road above Middle Creek Campground also has a slide and hillslope failure, though the county has put in a temporary repair for access by emergency responders only.
To reach the Upper Lake Ranger District OHV trail system and campgrounds on Elk Mountain Road, visitors will need to drive via Potter Valley (Mendocino County Rd 240 / Lake County Rd 301) or via Sam Alley (Forest Roads 16N01 and 16N30). The Sam Alley alternate route is narrow in many places and only drivable with high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles. Officials advise the public not to haul trailers up these roads.
The M6 Road has a slide making it impassable approximately two miles north of the Bloody Rock Trailhead.
Prior to this winter’s storms, the M1 Road had been closed due to a slide at Bar Creek about three miles north of the Eel River Station. The detour to get to recreation areas above the slide is to take the M4 Road North to the M2 Road, then west on 23N29 (Espee Ridge Road).
Forest officials ask visitors to be prepared before travelling to the forest.
“Our staff is working extremely hard to get roads repaired, access restored and services ready for the public,” said McMaster. “We want everyone to enjoy these public lands, but visitors need to plan and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Never park or camp under dead trees or hanging limbs; stay alert if the wind picks up; know where you are going and any alternate routes; and carry emergency supplies.”
“Cell service is not reliable in the forest, so make sure you share your itinerary with a friend or relative and what time you can be expected to return.”
Forest staff continue to conduct storm damage assessments to identify hazards and road issues. As damage assessments continue, it is likely there could be more road closures and hazards. Visitors are advised to check for forest closures, road conditions and other alerts at https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/mendocino/alerts-notices or by calling 530-934-1137. Information about recreation areas is available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/mendocino/recreation.
Visitors can report storm damage and road conditions by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with as much detail as possible, including type of damage, route, GPS latitude and longitude, nearby landmarks and a photo with some object for scale (e.g., a truck or ruler).