SANTA FE – As crews continue to battle the Cajete Fire along N.M. 4 in the Jemez Mountains, the Santa Fe National Forest has now implemented Stage 1 fire restrictions on the southwestern side of the forest.
The Stage 1 restrictions cover the entire Jemez Ranger District and the southwestern corner of the Cuba Ranger District south of the Ranchos del Chaparral Girl Scout Camp.
The decision to impose restrictions was initially based on a rash of abandoned and unattended campfires combined with hot, dry conditions and the number of visitors expected over Father’s Day weekend. And then the Cajete Fire broke out Thursday, growing quickly from 1 acre to more than 700 and now over 1,000.
Under Stage I restrictions, fires, campfires, charcoal grills, and coal and wood stoves are allowed only in developed campsites or picnic areas with existing fire rings or grills. Campfires are prohibited at all dispersed camping sites. Stoves, lanterns or heaters fueled by propane or other liquefied petroleum fuels may be used in areas cleared of flammable materials within three feet of the device if they meet manufacturer’s safety specifications and have on/off switches.
Smoking is allowed only in enclosed vehicles or buildings and developed recreation sites. As a reminder, fireworks are always prohibited on all national forests.
Stage I fire restrictions are intended to enhance public safety, protect natural and cultural resources, and help prevent human-caused fires. Several criteria are used to determine when to implement fire restrictions, including fire activity levels, current and predicted weather, fuel moisture, and the availability of firefighting resources. Additional restrictions may be required if conditions warrant.
The Stage 1 fire restrictions will remain in effect on the Jemez Ranger District and a portion of the Cuba Ranger District until Dec. 31, 2017, or until rescinded, whichever occurs first. Fire restrictions may be lifted when the monsoon season arrives and conditions improve.
Forest officials would like to remind visitors to use extra caution when recreating on all public lands throughout the fire season. Violations are punishable as a Class B misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations and/or by imprisonment for not more than six months.
Know before you go. Fire restrictions in New Mexico can be found at https://firerestrictions.us/nm/ and fire updates are posted on the New Mexico Fire Information website at nmfireinfo.com.