Closure orders will be implemented for several districts of Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands due to the extreme fire danger.
The closures will prohibit all recreational activities on the Mountainair, Sandia and Mount Taylor ranger districts.
Campgrounds, picnic areas, trails, trailheads and National Forest System roads will be closed to the general public. The closure orders will remain in effect until the forest receives a significant amount of moisture and the fire danger level decreases substantially.
Some exceptions apply. In addition to government employees on official duty, firefighters and private property owners, the orders include additional exemptions for special use permit holders, contractors, Native American tribes and others whose activities do not raise the risk of wildfire.
The closures are as follows:
• Mountainair Ranger District: Effective at 8 a.m. Friday, June 15; includes all portions of the district.
• Sandia Ranger District: Effective at 8 a.m., Friday, June 15; includes all portions of the district except Foothills Trail #365, the Sandia Peak Tram and the Sandia Ranger District administrative site, which includes the Tijeras Pueblo, trail, programs and facilities.
• Mount Taylor Ranger District: Effective at 8 a.m., Friday, June 22; includes all portions of the district.
Many factors are taken into consideration before a closure of this magnitude is initiated, including current and predicted weather forecasts, fuel moisture levels, available firefighting resources and the number of new fire starts.
“The Cibola is a high-use forest, so this is not a decision that we made lightly,” said Matt Rau, fire staff officer. “The forest is tinder dry and the monsoons may still be a few weeks out. We need to take every action possible to reduce the risk of human-caused fires.”
Violations of the closure order carry a mandatory appearance in federal court and are punishable as a Class B misdemeanor by a fine of $5,000 for individuals, $10,000 for organizations, and/or imprisonment.
The order will be posted under Fire Information on the Cibola National Forest website. Fire restrictions in New Mexico can be found at firerestrictions.us/nm/, and fire updates are posted on the New Mexico Fire Information website at nmfireinfo.com.