People are flocking to the National Forest in record numbers, leaving behind “excessive amounts of discarded trash [and] human waste,” along with causing damage from off-road vehicles and “reckless use of firearms.”
Forest leaders are urging all visitors to recreate safely and with respect for the natural resources, according to a press release from the Forest Service, because violations and resource damage have both escalated with the increased numbers.
Some restrictions are in place in the National Forest, and no restrooms are being maintained, said Forest Service spokeswoman Donna Nemeth. Trash collection is suspended and some picnic and day use sites are unavailable to the public due to the coronavirus.
Conditions are changing frequently, and there is not currently a listing of what is open and what is restricted, Nemeth said. Ranger districts will have the most current information on site specifics.
Rangers have observed large numbers of parked vehicles near trailheads, Nemeth said. “The amount of trash that is left behind indicates a large number of visitors. Field going employees have reported large groups of people congregating at various locations.”
The Forest Service is urging visitors not to block roads or emergency access; to respect social-distancing measures; to not congregate in large groups; to try and visit areas that are less crowded; to pack out trash when you leave; and to use the restroom before you leave or bury human waste six inches deep and at least 200 feet from water, trails, campsites or parking areas.
To reach the Sandia Ranger District, call 505-281-3304. To reach the Mountainair Ranger District, call 505-847-2990.