Influx of visitors causes Sitting Bull Falls to close

Coronavirus New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – State and National Parks are slowly reopening, and people desperate to get out of the house, are flocking to them by the thousands. One park that recently opened, is already closed again. “We’re just as disappointed as the public. We were really doing our best to keep the site open,” said Laura Rabon, Public Affairs Officer for the Lincoln National Forest.

Sitting Bull Falls, a park just outside Carlsbad has been closed after the U.S Forest Service saw a record amount of people visit the park over Memorial Day weekend. “But the numbers we were seeing at the site were breaking records. We had 3,000 people there this past weekend, we were having at least 700 people every single day and the site is just not designed for that level of visitation,” said Rabon.

Rabon said because that many people showed up to the park every day it was hard to practice social distancing. Their staff struggled to maintain the overflowing trash cans, and because the bathrooms remained closed due to COVID-19, visitors started relieving themselves all over the park.

“The bathrooms had been closed because COVID-19, people were using the restroom elsewhere and not properly disposing of their human waste,” said Rabon. That’s when the decision was made to close the park so they could catch up on maintenance and cleaning that needed to be done.

Officials say the park will stay closed until others in the area start to reopen, so Sitting Bull Falls, isn’t the only destination available. During the closure, they’ll also install new, more sanitary sinks and get more protective equipment and cleaning supplies ready.

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