SANTA FE – Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) officials urge the public to be prepared and operate safely in wilderness areas.
“Almost every year there are people that require rescue because they weren’t prepared before entering into wilderness areas,” said Diane Prather, Santa Fe National Forest staff officer and Search and Rescue Coordinator. “Individuals were rescued Saturday in a wilderness area because they were lost. Proper preparation can help hikers avoid the situation and not put rescuers at risk.”
Wilderness areas are managed by the USDA Forest Service to provide visitors with primitive, challenging recreation opportunities that require a high degree of self-reliance and navigation skills. Stay safe by knowing the potential dangers should you encounter wild animals, or have to deal with the sun, heat, falling trees or snags, loose or uneven ground, mines, caves, ticks, water hazards, or navigation challenges. The beauty and peacefulness of the forest may make you feel carefree, but you must remain vigilant to avoid creating potentially dangerous situations.
The weather can change suddenly and dramatically. Monitor weather conditions before you set out for the day and be prepared for the possibility of rock falls, hypothermia, lightning, floods, hail, winds, and heat. “Know before you go” by visiting the USDA Forest Service web site that provides “forest goers” with information needed to ensure a more safe and enjoyable experience: https://www.fs.fed.us/visit/know-before-you-go. Leave No Trace, an agency partner also provides excellent information about pre-trip planning: https://lnt.org/learn/principle-1.
“Wilderness areas are the birthright of every American and there is no better place to enjoy our special natural and cultural heritage,” said Mark Allison, executive director for New Mexico Wild. “Be responsible for your own safety by being prepared, and tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back.”
Stage 2 fire restrictions are in effect forest wide until conditions allow for change to, or rescission of, the closure order: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd579371.pdf. The restrictions enhance public safety, protect natural and cultural resources, and help prevent human-caused fires. Fire restrictions in New Mexico are at https://firerestrictions.us/nm/, and fire updates are posted on the New Mexico Fire Information website at www.nmfireinfo.com.