SANTA FE (KRQE) - State land is now off limits to open fires, fireworks and smoking, the State Land Office announced Wednesday.
The ban is in effect until further notice, Land Commissioner Ray Powell said in a statement released by his office.
"Severe drought conditions coupled with high winds, and dense fuel loads can combine to produce catastrophic fires like we saw last year in New Mexico," Powell said in the statement. "It is important to do what we can to prevent human-caused fires on our state trust lands."
Powell also urged agricultural producers leasing state lands to use caution when operating motorized vehicles around dry vegetation and to establish and maintain clear areas around buildings and other improvements.
Last year both the Las Conchas Fire in the Jemez Mountains and the Track Fire near Raton Pass burned through state lands. Overall fire scorched about 140,000 of state land, mostly grasslands but including 3,000 acres of forest that burned at high intensity, according to the land office.
Investigations blamed the Las Conchas Fire on a power line downed by high winds while the Track Fire was attributed to ATV operators driving through dry brush while trespassing on the BNSF right-of-way.
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