SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Santa Fe National Forest has extended the 2019 closure order for the Jemez Cave which prohibits the public from entering it, using the surrounding trails, and being in the area immediately surrounding it. The closure is effective until April 30, 2023.
The Jemez Cave is located in the Jemez Ranger District in the Soda Dam Geologic Special Interest Area and is next to NM Highway 4. According to a press release from the Forest Service, the closure order protects cultural and natural resources and public safety while archeologists develop a long-term management strategy for the area.
Before the initial closure order, the cave was known to be popular with overhead rock climbers and other recreationists whose activities damaged the site according to the Forest Service. While Jemez Cave remains closed there is still access to additional climbing areas on the Jemez District.
According to the Forest Service, the closure order prohibits the public from entering the cave or being in the restricted area that extends 50 feet upslope from the roof of the cave, 50 feet on either side of the mouth of the cave, and downslope to the NM Highway 4 right-of-way and includes all trails that lead to the cave.
Officials state the restricted area doesn’t include the parking area right next to the highway right-of-way. Federal, state, and local officers, as well as members of an organized firefighting crew, or other organized rescue team are exempt from the closure order.
Violations of the closure order could result in a $5,000 fine for individuals or $10,000 for organizations, six-month imprisonment, or both. Maps of the closure order can be found online.