Santa Fe, Cibola, Carson national forests announce closures effective May 19

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SANTA FE, N.M. — The U.S. Forest Service announced a forest-wide closure order will be issued for the Santa Fe National Forest and the Carson National Forest, effective Thursday morning.

The Cibola National Forest will also be implementing a Stage 3 forest closure for the Mt. Taylor, Mountainair and Sandia Ranger Districts.

The orders will be in effect starting at 8 a.m. on May 19. During the closure, public access will be prohibited due to the ongoing active wildfires and extreme fire danger.

All National Forest System lands, recreation sites, roads, trails and trailheads within the restricted boundaries will be closed to the general public. County and state roads that cross through the closed lands will remain open to vehicles and businesses in nearby communities.

Violating the order carries a Class B misdemeanor, which includes as much as a $5,000 fine for individuals/$10,000 for organizations and/or up to six months’ imprisonment.

Federal, state and local officers are exempt from the closure orders, as well as members of an organized rescue team or firefighting team. Residents may also use roads in the restricted area in order to access their private property.

The order means forest-wide Stage 3 fire restrictions will remain in effect, which prohibits:

  • Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or stove fire
  • Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or a treated area
  • Blasting, welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame
  • Using any type of explosive
  • Operating any equipment powered by an internal combustion engine, including chainsaws, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Driving off designated roads – Parking is allowed in areas cleared of vegetation with 10 feet of a road or in designated parking areas

The Santa Fe National Forest spans 1,558,452 acres while the Carson National Forest spans 1,391,674 acres near Taos.

All closure orders will remain in effect through July 18, but could be rescinded earlier. This date replaces the initial termination date, which was Dec. 31. The new closure date reflects a timeframe closer to potential monsoon weather, and the closures will be reevaluated at that time.