Additional US forests in New Mexico impose fire restrictions

TAOS, N.M. (AP) — More national forests in drought-stricken New Mexico plan to impose fire restrictions on activities such as campfires and smoking in an attempt to prevent human-caused wildfires.

The Carson National Forest headquartered in Taos and the Santa Fe National Forest headquartered in Santa Fe announced Friday they will implement so-called Stage One restrictions effective May 24.

The restrictions prohibit campfires at dispersed sites and allow fires only in developed campsites and picnic areas with Forest Service-installed fire rings or grills, while smoking is allowed only in vehicles, buildings or areas cleared of all flammable material.

The Lincoln and Gila national forests in southern New Mexico implemented similar restrictions in April.

Carson National Forest Supervisor James Duran said abandoned or unattended campfires are the leading cause of wildfires. Duran also said fuel moisture levels in the forest are now at levels typically not seen until mid-summer.

Criteria for implementing restrictions includes current and predicted weather, fuel moisture, fire activity levels and available firefighting resources.