“Widespread drought conditions, extreme fire danger, fire frequency, and fire behavior” are among the reasons for burn restrictions put into place this week on public lands.
A press release from the state of New Mexico says the heightened threats require the imposition of additional restrictions, which have also been implemented on federal lands, including the National Forest.
Smoking and campfires are prohibited with certain conditions. Use of fireworks, open burning or open fires, and certain equipment use is also restricted.
Smoking is prohibited except in enclosed buildings or vehicles with ashtrays, and on paved or surfaced roads, developed recreation sites, or in clear areas at least three feet in diameter.
Fireworks use is prohibited “on lands covered wholly or partly in timber, brush, grass, grain, or other flammable vegetation. Entities wishing to hold public fireworks displays may request a written exception, but only if the local fire department approves the display.
Open burning of fields or debris is prohibited.
In addition, fuelwood cutting, timber harvesting and thinning activities are prohibited on Red Flag days. On non-Red Flag days those activities are restricted to morning hours until 10 a.m. and after 8 p.m. Other restrictions on use of equipment are in place as well.
Additionally, the Forest Service implemented forest closure and Stage 3 Fire Restrictions in the National Forest, including the Sandia and Mountainair ranger districts of the Cibola National Forest.
New Mexico State Parks are also temporarily closed due to extreme fire danger, including Manzano Mountains State Park.
“State Park closures are the best option for public safety and preservation of our diverse natural and cultural resources and uniquely New Mexican traditions,” said State Parks Director Toby Velasquez. “Our state is facing record level fuel and fire conditions, fire behavior that is beyond normal experience, and no predicted weather relief for an extended period. We must prioritize our communities and first responders. All it takes is one irresponsible action and there is just too much at risk right now.”
The state also announced that all state parks have implemented the State Forester Fire Restriction Order, which places restrictions on all non-municipal, non-federal, and non-tribal lands statewide, prohibiting smoking, fireworks, campfires, open burning, and open fires.
Twenty-eight state parks remain open, and fees and stay limits are waived for evacuees from communities impacted by the wildfires.
Santa Fe County issued a press release May 20 announcing closure of county trails due to current fire danger. The closure will be in effect until further notice.
According to the press release, its Open Space ordinance gives the Growth Management Department permission “from time to time determine that closures of open space areas to the public and/or to certain animals are necessary or desirable to protect wildlife, vegetation, for for public safety concerns.”
On May 18, the Santa Fe County Fire Department changed the fire danger to Extreme across the county.