Forest Service prohibits campfires in New Mexico's national forests

The Carson National Forest and the other four national forests in New Mexico have banned campfires and charcoal grills for the time being during the coronavirus pandemic. Cody Hooks

Dispersed camping is still allowed in the five national forests in New Mexico, but campfires are banned until June 30.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, Southwestern Region enacted the ban April 15 to "protect the health and safety of employees and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement from the Forest Service . Campfires are also prohibited on national grasslands on the Cibola in Oklahoma and Texas.

"This campfire restriction will prevent the drawdown of fire and medical resources to human-caused wildfires and reduce firefighter exposure to COVID-19 during the current pandemic," according to the statement.

“While we know that going outside provides forest visitors needed space, exercise and satisfaction, we are taking the risks presented by COVID-19 seriously,” said Santa Fe National Forest Supervisor James Melonas said in a statement.

The April 15 campfire restriction order prohibits "igniting, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, including charcoal grills and barbecues, coal and wood burning stoves. Forest visitors are allowed to use pressurized liquid or gas stoves, grills or lanterns with shut-off valves as long as they are at least three feet from any flammable materials."

Scoflaws could face an appearance in federal court, fines, and possible time in jail.

For additional information on COVID-19, go to  https://www.coronavirus.gov. Information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is available at https://www.usda.gov/coronavirus.

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