10.D. (8557 – Temporary Closure Order)
Closure Order #20-003
April 24, 2020
Closures, restrictions and public use limits:
Closure Order –Park Developed Areas: Under the authority provided to the Superintendent in 36 CFR 1.5, the follow park areas and facilities are closed, effective immediately, until further notice:
DEFINITION: Developed Area means roads, parking areas, picnic areas, campgrounds, or other structures, facilities or lands located within development and historic zones depicted on the park area land management and use map.
Notice: This administrative order applies to all individuals subject to the regulatory authority of the National Park Service (NPS) within the boundaries of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, including park visitors, government employees, concession employees, park residents and stakeholders, except as follows:
Finding: The NPS issues this administrative order for the purposes of maintaining public health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. This order is consistent with the following public health directives:
These directives require the NPS to take the actions identified above because:
California is under a State of Emergency order with 37,369 confirmed cases as of 4/24/20. The Governor has ordered a statewide “shelter in place” directive (3/19/20) to combat rapid disease spread. The state health officer forecasts that one-half the population could be infected without immediate intervention. The President issued a national state of emergency on March 13, 2020 and issued updated “Coronavirus Guidelines for America, 15 Days to Slow the Spread” guidelines on March 16, 2020 including to “avoid discretionary travel”.
CDPH guidance recommends distancing of 6 feet or more, daily disinfecting high touch surfaces, and frequent had washing with soap and water. Gateway communities report 891 confirmed cases and 32 fatalities. Tulare and Fresno County public health departments recommends following CDC guidelines for distancing, hygiene, and disinfection. The City of Fresno has ordered a “shelter in place” restriction for residents.
CDC guidelines discourage gatherings of 10 or more people. CDC disinfection guidelines require all high touch surfaces be disinfected following contamination, and no less than daily. OSHA industrial hygiene practices recommend PPE (gloves and mask) for applying disinfectants.
The park is unable to operate public water and wastewater systems in compliance with State of California regulations. Additionally, CDC guidance for disinfecting surfaces and OSHA guidance for PPE to protect employees and visitors can no longer be met due to supply chain impacts. Finally, surveys by visitor protection staff confirm that personal and non-personal actions to enforce social distancing (6 feet) have been ineffective.
Maintaining Safe Water Systems
The State of California has primacy over operation of public water and waste water systems. There are 22 water systems within the closure area that require licensed water plant operators to comply with State regulations. The park is facing a critical shortage of licensed operators with no opportunity for backup using contractors. All five operators are in high risk categories due to underlying medical conditions, including age, heart disease, and compromised immune systems. Two operators are now presenting flu-like symptoms and are under medical care. At this time, we are unable to operate water and waste water plants within the closure area and must restrict plant operations to serve essential functions. These include meeting demand for 200 employee residents, four emergency operation centers, and utility system maintenance.
Disinfection and PPE Supply Chain
The park has reached critical supply inventories for disinfection and PPE. Supply chains are broken and unable to deliver materials in a timely manner. Backorders deliveries exceed 30 days for disinfection, masks, and gloves. Emergency orders have been placed with the national IMT, but are on hold and not expected to be filled. Current inventories are now insufficient to disinfect all high-touch surfaces within the closure area, which serves approximately 2,200 visitors daily. Visitation surges have been experienced in open areas. PPE supplies are also insufficient to meet OSHA industrial hygiene standards for janitorial services and first responders.
Daily surveys conducted by enforcement rangers over a 7 day period in popular gathering areas indicate that direct and indirect actions to enforce social distancing (6 feet) are ineffective. Groups of visitors in open areas have been gathering in high densities, failing to maintain appropriate social distancing from each other and from park staff. On a typical day, over 2,000 visitors can gather in groups of 100 or more at these popular destinations. Signing and verbal warnings to disperse are ineffective. The closure is necessary to disperse these gatherings to other locations and nearby public lands.
This order is effective immediately and will remain in effect until further notice. The effectiveness of this order will be assessed on an ongoing basis, and the order will be modified or rescinded when conditions warrant.
The Superintendent's Compendium is a compilation of designations, closures, permit requirements, and other restrictions made by the superintendent, in addition to what is contained in Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations (Parks, Forest, and Public Property, Chapter 1, National Park Service, Department of the Interior), and other applicable federal statutes and regulations.
Weapons and Firearms
Discharge of a firearm or weapon is prohibited within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. As of February 22, 2010, federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws, to legally possess firearms in this park.
As of January 1, 2013, California law prohibits the open carry of any firearm within the parks. Persons otherwise permitted to possess firearms (in general) may possess a concealed firearm with a valid permit to carry a concealed firearm (CCW) from California. A CCW from another state does not apply.
Weapons (including, but not limited to, BB, Pellet and Paint Guns, Bow/Arrow, Slingshots, Bear Spray and other compressed gas irritant devices) are illegal to possess. Federal law also prohibits firearms in certain facilities in this park; those places are marked with signs at all public entrances. This also applies to concealed firearms with a valid CCW.
It is the responsibility of park visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearms laws before entering this park. As a starting point, please visit the State of California Penal Code web site (see Part 6 - Control of Deadly Weapons).
Unmanned Aircraft, Including Drones
Unmanned aircraft are not allowed in these parks. This includes drones and other remotely piloted vehicles. For more information, visit the National Park Service's Fire and Aviation Management web page about unmanned aircraft.
An illegal telephone scam is mentioning Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This scam claims that payment is due for an infraction or that the caller can assist in handling legal issues with the Federal Magistrate. The goal of the scam is to defraud people of money. Do not send money or give any information.
Many such phone, email, and mail scams exist. If you receive such a call, go to the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Information site to learn about scams and file a complaint.
Last updated: May 18, 2020