Forest Service closing developed campgrounds

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New Mexico's five national forests including the Carson National Forest, will begin closing developed recreation sites as early as Monday (March 23), to align with state and local steps already taken to contain the outbreak of the COVID-19 illness.

While campgrounds such as Orilla Verde in the Rio Grande Gorge, day-use sites, restrooms and other  recreation facilities on the Carson, Cibola, Gila, Lincoln and Santa Fe national forests are likely to be closed, the forests will remain open for people to recreate outdoors, according to a statement issued by the federal agency Monday. Hiking and biking on trails, dispersed camping and other activities that support social distancing and small groups will still be allowed for the time being.

Forest Service Collaboration Staff Officer Leeann Murphy said in an e-mail to Taos News that Carson National Forest “campgrounds are not scheduled to re-open until mid-May. These actions have been taken based on the best available medical advice for cleaning per CDC guidelines and to promote social distancing.“

Law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 so people are urged to be careful, avoid high risk activities and stay on marked trails. Forest visitors should help keep the public lands clean during the closure of recreation sites by taking home their trash (pack it in, pack it out), and burying human waste at least 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet away from water, trails and recreation sites. Visit the Interactive Visitor Map at https://www.fs.fed.us/ivm/ for more information on available activities.

The developed recreation site closures will remain in effect until further notice. Carson NF offices are operating and providing services online.  For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.   

Any resident who has developed a fever above 100.4, cough, shortness of breath or even mild flu-like symptoms need to limit exposure to other people and self-isolate. Immediately contact your healthcare provider to discuss symptoms and any risk factors for COVID-19 or call 855-600-3453. for information on where to get tested.  Any individual who has symptoms but does not have a healthcare provider should contact the New Mexico Department of Health at 855-600-3453.

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