NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Three of New Mexico’s National Forests are closing to the public effective 8 a.m. Thursday, May 19, due to extreme fire danger according to forest officials. Santa Fe National Forest, Cibola National Forest and Carson National Forest will go into stage three restrictions.
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Stage three restrictions prohibits anyone from going into or being on restricted areas. That leaves only Lincoln and Gila National Forests open to the public.
People who frequent the areas say they’re disappointed but understand. “Certainly I’m ambivalent about it. On the one hand, I don’t want it to be closed because I like to hike but on the other hand I certainly understand why because it’s been so dry this year,” said hiker Ed Whitted.
According to the Forest Service, several factors were considered before implementing the restrictions including the impact on the local community as well as fire activity and the current danger. Hikers who frequent the trails say they’re glad the restrictions will be put in place this week because they don’t want to see any more destruction.
“We don’t want this to burn for a number of reasons. We noticed just how dry everything is and so and that benefit is let’s preserve the forest, Close it down while it’s dry,” Whitted said.
The only people who will be allowed in the three forests will be personnel with forest authorization, federal state, or local officers, firefighters, and residents using restricted roads to access their properties. Violators could face a 5-thousand dollar fine or six months in jail. Closures are to remain in effect until conditions change. As of now, the Lincoln and Gila National Forests are still open to the public.