The Santa Fe National Forest has experienced higher than normal temperatures and lower than normal precipitation for this time of year, raising concerns about the risk of wildfire well past the historical end of fire season.
Fire managers are monitoring fire indices, including fuel moisture levels which are atypically low for this time of year, and forecasted weather to keep a close eye on the very real risk of wildfire heading into October. The good news is that shorter days, increased cloud cover and the possibility of wetting rain in the first week of October are expected to improve the outlook in the relatively near future.
If conditions worsen, the SFNF always has the option of imposing fire restrictions on the forest as a proactive way to reduce the risk of human-caused wildfire, protect natural and cultural resources, and enhance public and firefighter safety. But, fire managers point out, we are not there yet.
The districts on both the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo sides of the forest also reported very good public compliance with campfire safety protocols and wildfire prevention since Labor Day.
“As the national 2021 wildfire season continues in other parts of the country, it is gratifying to see that our messaging about human-caused wildfire is having an impact,” Forest Supervisor Debbie Cress said. “We want to sincerely thank the public for taking their responsibility to recreate safely and protect the forest to heart.”
The rapidly changing dynamic around wildfire emphasizes the need to monitor conditions year-round. Fire managers on the SFNF will continue to keep an eye on multiple factors that influence wildfire risk, including predicted weather, fire danger indices, fuel moisture, fire activity levels and available firefighting resources. The SFNF webpage posts the current fire danger on its home page.
If you plan to visit the SFNF this fall, pleaserecreate responsibly, plan ahead, know before you go, and follow Leave No Trace principles. Continue to use extreme caution around campfires and other potential ignition sources by following campfire safety procedures. Never leave your campsite until the fire is completely extinguished and cold to the touch. Violators of regulations that prohibit abandoning a campfire are subject to a fine and/or imprisonment. If an abandoned campfire causes a wildfire, violators can also be held responsible for fire suppression costs.