Santa Fe National Forest (Forest) officials thank the general public for adhering to the forest-wide closure in effect since June 1.
Forest officials implemented the forest-wide closure to prohibit public access to the 1.6 million-acre forest for public safety and forest health while in high to extreme fire danger.
“By-and-large the public is adhering to the closure order, and I thank everyone who has,” said James Melonas, forest supervisor. “In comparison to the number of visitors we can receive in a typical summer, the number of violations is actually low. Area residents appear to be conveying the closure to visitors, which helps us a lot, but we’re two weeks into full forest closure and still finding violators.”
“At this point, violators can expect to be issued a written citation as opposed to a warning,” he said.
Since the closure went into effect, Forest law enforcement officers issued 10 written warnings, 23 violations, and many oral warnings to members of the public who were in the Forest illegally.
“Many of the violations are committed by those who access the Forest to fish, camp or hike,” said Melonas. “Also, many are parking their cars along state roads within the Forest, like Hyde Park Road, and then stepping onto Forest land, which is a violation. The bottom line is, when the Forest is closed to the general public, it means no access.”
The closure order prohibits recreational activities on the Forest and will remain in effect until the Forest receives enough moisture to lift the closure order. Campgrounds, trails and trailheads, and National Forest System roads are closed to the general public. County and state roads that cross Forest Service lands are not under USDA Forest Service jurisdiction and will remain open to vehicular traffic.
Closure order violations can 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.
The closure order is posted under Alerts and Notices on the Forest 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.