Santa Rosa Plateau to remain closed until further notice

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The Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District has announced that the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve and visitors’ center will be closed indefinitely as a result of the Tenaja Fire and parks officials are assessing the damage. RivCoParks photo

The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, including the visitors’ center and Sylvan Meadows, will remain closed indefinitely as a result of the Tenaja Fire, according to Kyla Brown, assistant parks director for the Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District.

The fire burned 1,926 acres and is now fully contained, but Brown said “guests tempted to visit will be turned away while the burn areas are assessed.

“There is no timeline for re-opening the reserve or visitor center as managers of the land need to determine priorities for repair and restoration,” Brown said in a press release.

Brown said that the visitor center, located at 39400 Clinton Keith Road in Murrieta, was not damaged in the fire, and she credited the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection with protecting the center and other buildings and assets on the reserve, “including the historic Moreno and Machado Adobes and the vernal pools.”

“Portions of this area haven’t burned significantly in 40 years. Fortunately, the Plateau Visitor Center and the entire southwestern part of the reserve were spared,” 1st District Supervisor Kevin Jeffries said. “The portion that did burn will need time to recover. There will likely be hot spots and damaged trees that pose risks to visitors.”

The press release asked the public to obey warning and closure signs and respect the staff and volunteers working to protect the reserve.

“Safety is our No. 1 priority,” Scott Bangle, general manager for the county parks district, said. “Our staff and partners are working to assess damage and develop a plan to make repairs. We need volunteers now to help enforce the closure and will need even more volunteers once restoration efforts get underway.”

Volunteers can sign up at www.rivcoparks.org/volunteers or by calling (800) 234-7275.

For more information about the reserve or for updates on current conditions, visit www.rivcoparks.org.

Valley staff can be reached by email at valleystaff@reedermedia.com.