Fire prevention staff on the Santa Fe National Forest found approximately 30 abandoned campfires over the three-day Memorial Day weekend. Still too many, Deputy Fire Staff Officer Terrance Gallegos said, but a big improvement over the 84 abandoned campfires found over the same weekend in 2018.
The 64% drop in abandoned campfires – the leading human cause of wildfire – may be attributable to a concerted effort by the forest’s fire prevention team to teach visitors how to properly extinguish a campfire. SFNF staff hand out brochures and post flyers at designated campgrounds, and information is posted on the forest website, Facebook page and Twitter feed.
Most of the abandoned campfires were found on the Pecos and Jemez Ranger Districts, the most popular parts of the forest for weekend visitors. While it was clear that campers had made an effort to put out some of those campfires, too many of them were literally just walked away from, Gallegos said.
“That combined with the high winds we saw over the weekend could have been disastrous. Fortunately, the above-average moisture we’ve seen this year has reduced our wildfire risk. But we still need folks to camp responsibly and make sure their campfires are completely out before they pack up and head home.”
Memorial Day typically launches the summer season on the SFNF. If you plan to gather family and friends around a campfire, please do it safely by following Smokey Bear’s campfire safety procedures. Never leave your campsite until the fire is completely extinguished and cold to the touch. Visitors are reminded that fireworks and explosives are always prohibited on federal lands.
Always adhere to the Leave No Trace principles of outdoor ethics on national forests and parks. Refer to the 2019 Motor Vehicle Use Maps, available at all SFNF offices and online, so you know which roads and trails are open to motor vehicle traffic.