New Mexico officials enforce forest closures

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Most of New Mexico’s national forests remain closed as wildfires across the state continue to burn, and closing a forest is not a decision officials take lightly. 

Julie Anne Overton with the Santa Fe National Forest said the closure was for not only the public’s safety but also the firefighter’s safety. 

The wildfires and extreme fire danger have also prompted Bernalillo County to close a number of open spaces as well, but the Santa Fe National Forest alone is 1.6 million acres, so how are officials enforcing the closure?

Forest Service Law Enforcement will be out patrolling around the forest.

“They will probably be patrolling the areas that are most popular with, with folks who’d like to come camping, and hiking, you know, they’ll be checking the really popular spots for recreation, and driving the forest roads,” said Overton.

She said so far she doesn’t know of anyone sneaking into the forest, but added you shouldn’t test your luck.

“Well, if you are cited, that is ticketed, it’s up to a $5,000 fine, and or six months in jail, so the penalty is pretty steep,” she said.

As for when we can expect the closures to lift, right now the order says July 18, but that could change depending on conditions.

It all depends on what kind of monsoon season we see this year, Overton said. 

For a full list of closures and restrictions, you can visit the U.S. Forest Service website for an interactive map of closures.