JEMEZ SPRINGS (KRQE) – Forest Road 69 in the Valles Caldera is closed to all motorized vehicles from May 15 to July 1. The closure is in place to protect elk during the calving season.

The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) says, “The seasonal road closure provides suitable habitat for elk cows during the calving season…elk cows seek areas that have cover and forage. Disturbances, including motorized traffic and human interaction, can cause the cow to abort or abandon her calf.”

According to the SFNF, the calf and its mother stay in place for around ten days until the calf is strong enough to move with its mother to higher land. Road closures provide safety and comfort for both the mother elk and her calf during that time.

Violation of the road closure is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations, along with imprisonment for up to six months. Visitors are still allowed to walk in the area but the SFNF asks that visitors respect the elk during the calving process.