Monsoon arrival allows lifting of most fire restrictions and closures
Albuquerque NM, July 22, 2004—“The monsoon rains have helped reduce the fire danger allowing land managers to lift most fire restrictions and closures across New Mexico,” stated Bill Waterbury, assistant regional director for fire and aviation management, U.S. Fire Service. “A large portion of the state has received significant rainfall; however, it is not at as extensive as we would like. Even in the high country, some areas did not receive heavy rains.”
Yesterday, six “reporting units” still recorded high/very high fire danger in various areas of New Mexico. On Wednesday, there were eleven lightning fires and no human-caused fires in the state. None of the fires were over an acre in size. “A forecast of higher humidity and an increased chance of rainfall in the state should lessen the fire danger even further over the next week,” Waterbury said.
However, for now, the lack of widespread monsoon rains has caused some closures and restrictions to remain in effect in New Mexico. Campfire and smoking restrictions remain in effect for portions of the Carson and Cibola National Forests, Bandelier National Monument, and in the Farmington BLM district. The Lincoln National Forest and the Roswell BLM office will lift their restrictions effective July 26.
Zuni Indian Reservation and Laguna and Mescalero agency lands also have restrictions remaining. Additionally, New Mexico state parks and Game and Fish-administered areas are continuing smoking and campfire restrictions at some locations. Bernalillo, Los Alamos, and Santa Fe counties have restrictions remaining in effect.
“Even though we are in the monsoon season, there are still areas that remain dry and visitors across the state are urged to be careful with campfires and smoking materials, especially in dry grassy areas,” Waterbury added. “There always seems to be an area somewhere in the state that is dry enough to burn, no matter the time of year.”
The latest restriction and closure information can be found at the Web sites www.azfireinfo.com and www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire or by calling toll-free 1-877-864-6985.
National forest reopens but remains under some fire restrictions
Recent rain and higher humidities made it possible for Cibola National Forest officials to open the forest again on July 22.
“Recent yet spotty rains allow us to open the forest to visitors again,” stated Richard Nieto, fire management officer.
The Sandia, Mountainair, Magdalena and Mt. Taylor Ranger Districts have now reopened.
As a precautionary measure, the Cibola National Forest is maintaining the following fire restrictions on the Sandia, Mountainair, Magdalena and Mt. Taylor Ranger Districts:
- Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, charcoal broiler, coal- or woodstove is prohibited. Pressurized liquid or gas stoves, lanterns, and heaters meeting safety specifications are allowed anywhere on the national forest.
- Smoking is prohibited, except within an enclosed vehicle or building.
- Personal-use firewood cutting will not be allowed until further notice. Extensions will be granted to individuals with existing personal-use permits.
- As always, fireworks are prohibited on all national forest lands.
Cibola Forest supervisor Liz Agpaoa said, “We want to thank the public for their cooperation and patience during the month that the Cibola National Forest was under partial forest closures. We continue to ask for the public’s vigilance, as fire danger remains high.
“The restrictions effectively minimized fire occurrence, which could have resulted in high losses. Firefighters were also commended for maintaining their state of readiness and efficiency during initial attack efforts on all fires.
“We will continue to monitor rainfall and other conditions and lift the fire restrictions as soon as practical.”
Campfire and smoking restrictions have been lifted for the Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands in New Mexico and Texas. Restrictions have been lifted also on the Black Kettle and McClellan Creek National Grasslands in Oklahoma and Texas.
For more information, contact Mark Chavez at 505-346-3900 or contact the following ranger district offices:
Sandia Ranger District: 505-281-3304
Mountainair Ranger District: 505-847-2990
Magdalena Ranger District: 505-854-2281
Mt. Taylor Ranger District: 505-287-8833
Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands: 505-374-9652
Black Kettle and McClellan Creek National Grasslands: 580-497-2143
The public is reminded that campfire safety is still of concern year around, and everyone is urged to follow fire safety precautions when recreating in the forest.