As the national forests in northern New Mexico implement Stage 2 fire restrictions today, the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) is bracing for Memorial Day weekend – traditionally the opening of the summer outdoor recreation season – under current COVID-19 pandemic conditions.
Recent weekends have seen unusually high numbers of visitors as people seek a respite from quarantine by heading into the woods. While most visitors try to do the right thing, careless campers and high fire danger are a bad combination. The SFNF will have law enforcement, fire and recreation patrols out over the weekend to ensure visitor safety, enforce the Stage 2 fire restrictions and encourage compliance with New Mexico public health orders.
“Access to a wide array of recreation options is one of the most important ways the Santa Fe National Forest serves our public and our communities,” Forest Supervisor James Melonas said. “If you decide to visit the forest this weekend, please do your part to protect yourself, other recreationists and our employees by following state and federal guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
The SFNF is monitoring local conditions and working with partners to determine the best path to safely reopen developed recreation sites that were closed in March to protect public health and safety. Until then most trails are open for hiking and biking, and dispersed camping is allowed in compliance with social distancing and limited group size. Please adhere to the Leave No Trace principles of outdoor ethics and refer to the 2020 Motor Vehicle Use Maps so you know which roads and trails are open to motor vehicle traffic. Do not block roadways to firefighter and other emergency access. Forest Roads 10 and 376 on the Jemez District remain closed to traffic.
For Memorial Day weekend and until conditions support a phased reopening of recreation facilities, please remember that:
- All developed campgrounds on the SFNF are closed to overnight camping.
- All toilet facilities on the forest are locked. Learn how to dispose of human waste appropriately.
- Campfires, charcoal grills, and coal and wood burning stoves are prohibited.
- Some picnic/day use sites are closed to thepublic.
- Trash collection is suspended. Take your garbage home.
Higher temperatures combined with low humidity and high winds raise the risk of wildfire. Stage 2 fire restrictions are intended to reduce the risk of human-caused wildfire and protect firefighters from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19.
- SFNF offices will be closed on Monday, May 25, in observance of Memorial Day. Forest offices will resume virtual business hours on Tuesday, May 26.