Outdoors: Fire potential very high in New Mexico

-A A +A

State parks and national forests aren’t allowing campfires

Serious fire danger in and around New Mexico continues to put a damper on outdoor activities this Father’s Day.
Santa Fe National Forest, which surrounds Los Alamos County, is still under Stage II fire restrictions. Stage II restrictions, which went into effect June 10, puts prohibitions on using campfires or stove fires, fireworks and smoking in the forest, as well as prohibiting the use of all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles and other types of vehicles. In May, the forest went to Stage I restrictions.
Valles Caldera National Preserve is also under Stage II restrictions. Bandelier National Monument hasn’t announced any specific fire restrictions.
Santa Fe, Lincoln National Forest and Gila National Forest are all under severe restrictions due to drought conditions in New Mexico.
Due to extreme conditions, Lincoln National Forest, covering the south-central part of the state, is currently closed to all activity. Gila National Forest, in southwest New Mexico, is also under Stage II restrictions and the Quail Ridge Fire that burned in early March in the area destroyed 13 homes and 60 other structures.
Meanwhile, some New Mexico State Parks, such as Morphy Lake near Mora and Manzano Mountains near Albuquerque have been closed due to the dry conditions. Sugarite State Park, near the Colorado border, was closed this week due to the Track Fire.
There was one piece of good news for outdoor enthusiasts this weekend, however. Sumner Lake State Park, which had been closed to boating due to potential invasive species infestation, has been reopened.
Those wishing to boat at Sumner Lake must go through mandatory inspection prior to launch and a decontamination process after removal, the State Parks Division said in a press release.
“We understand that these procedures are an inconvenience to our visitors, but we are excited that they will allow us to open the lake for all to enjoy,” said John Bemis of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.
Locally, precipitation has been virtually non-existent for the past month, which means Santa Fe’s restrictions aren’t likely to be lifted for the remainder of the month.
Los Alamos National Laboratory’s weather data shows that less than a tenth of an inch of precipitation has fallen at five of its six measuring sites since mid-May, the vast majority of it falling in one storm May 18, and has had no measurable rainfall at its site at Pajarito Mountain and just two-hundredths of an inch at TA-53 during that time.
Scot Johnson, a meterologist at LANL, said that according to a study, the summer rain in the area — commonly referred to as the “monsoon season” — starts around July 10.
Los Alamos County announced a ban on fireworks earlier this month due to extremely dry conditions.