SANTA FE – While the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) and Valles Caldera National Preserve (Preserve) have received some rain, fire danger is still high to extreme.
For the SFNF, forest conditions mean the forest-wide closure remains in effect until much more significant and widespread precipitation is received.
The Preserve, managed by the National Park Service, will remain in partial closure.
“It typically takes several rain events over time before the moisture saturates the ground well enough for vegetation to sufficiently hydrate,” said Kimberly DeVall, spokesperson for the Preserve. “In other words, imagine spending all day outside doing yard work in the sun and heat, but you only drink eight ounces of water. That amount of water just isn’t enough for your body to rehydrate.”
The SFNF entered forest-wide closure on June 1 to prohibit public access to the 1.6 million-acre forest for public safety and forest health while in high to extreme fire danger. The Preserve entered into partial closure on June 1. The Preserve’s entrance station and bookstore remain open to the public, and ranger-led tours and hikes are available in the park’s cabin district. All other access and activities are suspended.
“I appreciate the public’s continued support and understanding of why we are in closure,” said Santa Fe National Forest Supervisor, James Melonas. “We all love our forests and the recreational opportunities they produce, but this short-term inconvenience is necessary for the long-term enjoyment of our forests. Although public compliance is good overall, we all need to remain vigilant to ensure it stays that way.”
The closure orders prohibits public access. County and state roads that cross Forest Service lands are not under USDA Forest Service jurisdiction and will remain open to vehicular traffic. Area businesses remain open during the closure.
Violations of the SFNF closure order carry a mandatory appearance in federal court and 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.
Forest managers use several criteria to determine when to implement restrictions or closure, including fuel moistures, current and predicted weather, values at risk from wildfire, fire activity levels and available firefighting resources.
The SFNF closure order is posted under Alerts and Notices on the SFNF website. 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 www.nmfireinfo.com.
For more information on the SFNF, go to www.fs.usda.gov/santafe/.