The five national forests in New Mexico, including the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF), will begin the orderly closure of developed recreation sites as early as Monday, March 23, to protect public health and safety and align with state and local measures already in place to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
Although campgrounds, day-use sites, restrooms and other developed recreation facilities on the Carson, Cibola, Gila, Lincoln and Santa Fe national forests are likely to be closed, the vast majority of the forests will still be available to visitors who want to spend time outdoors. At this time, recreation opportunities include hiking and biking on trails, dispersed camping and other activities that support social distancing and small groups.
The SFNF asks members of the public to recreate responsibly by avoiding high-risk activities, like rock climbing, that increase the chance of injury or distress. Law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19. In addition, visitors can help mitigate resource impacts while recreation sites are closed by bringing home their trash (pack it in, pack it out), and by appropriately managing human waste by burying it at least 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet away from water, trails and recreation sites. Visit the Interactive Visitor Map at https://www.fs.fed.us/ivm/ for more information on available activities.
“We know how much our communities and our visitors value all the recreation opportunities the national forests have to offer,” SFNF Supervisor James Melonas said. “This decision was not made lightly, but we believe people understand the serious risks posed by facilities that draw large numbers of people into close proximity to each other. We appreciate your patience and understanding of our efforts to mitigate those risks to protect public health and safety.”
The developed recreation site closures will remain in effect until further notice. The Forest Service thanks all New Mexicans, visitors and partners for their cooperation. Please report any instances of vandalism to facilities to the local ranger district office.
All SFNF offices are conducting business and providing services virtually. The SFNF will continue to coordinate its COVID-19 response in alignment with all federal, state and local guidance. Visitors to national forests are urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.