The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) is implementing Stage 1 fire restrictions to reduce the risk of human-caused wildfire during consistent drought conditions, historically low fuel moisture levels and severe fire weather conditions. The Stage 1 restrictions will go into effect forest-wide at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020.
Stage 1 fire restrictions will also help firefighting resources focus efforts on the 2,500-acre Medio Fire and other wildfire starts on the forest, including the lightning-caused Caja Fire on the Caja del Rio Plateau.
Under Stage 1 restrictions, fires, campfires, charcoal grills, and coal and wood stoves are allowed only in developed campsites or picnic areas where agency-built fire rings or grills are provided for use. Campfires are prohibited at all dispersed camping sites.
Stoves, lanterns and heaters fueled by propane or other liquified petroleum fuels may be used if they meet manufacturer’s safety specifications and have on/off switches. Propane devices require an area at least 3 feet in diameter that has been cleared of flammable materials.
Smoking is allowed only in enclosed vehicles or buildings, at developed recreation sites or while standing in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that has been cleared of all flammable material. Fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices are always prohibited on national forests.
While the SFNF is still welcoming visitors, the annual monsoon season was a disappointment, and fire indices are spiking which historically is not typical for this time of year. This year’s fire season also has the added layer of complexity from COVID-19. The Stage 1 restrictions are a proactive way to reduce the very real risk of human-caused wildfire, protect natural and cultural resources, and enhance public and firefighter safety.
Federal, state and local officers, members of an organized rescue team or firefighting force, and any others authorized by permit are exempt from the closure order.
Forest visitors are asked to use extreme caution when fire restrictions are in place. Violations are punishable as a Class B misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations and/or by imprisonment for not more than six months. The fire restrictions are in place until Dec. 31, 2020, unless rescinded earlier.
The order imposing fire restrictions this Friday will be posted under Alerts and Notices on the Santa Fe National Forest website. Stay up to date on closures and other news by checking the SFNF website and following us on Facebook and Twitter.