The Carson National Forest reopened to the general public for hiking, biking, camping and other recreational activities Tuesday (July 10).
The announcement comes as welcome news around Taos, where folks have been understanding of the need to close the forest but have been missing their summertime adventures nonetheless.
Even though the forest has again opened its mountains and lakes, fire restrictions are still in place for the time being. The Stage 2 restrictions prohibit campfires and wood or charcoal stoves, firearms, chainsaws and smoking.
The area surrounding the Sardinas Canyon Fire, located in the Camino Real district, will remain closed for public and firefighter safety. This closure will include the southern portion of Forest Service Road 76 and the La Junta, Duran and Upper La Junta campgrounds.
"We looked at the predicted weather patterns, forestwide fuel moisture and available firefighting resources," said forest supervisor James Duran. "Given that we received rain and higher humidity, the potential for large wildfires has been reduced. I am comfortable with Stage 2 restrictions."
Vehicles are required to have spark arresters, stay on roads and not park over vegetation. Fire and area closure restrictions will be strictly enforced on the forest. Violation of these restrictions carries a mandatory appearance in federal court, consequent fines up to $10,000, and possible jail time.
The Santa Fe National Forest re-opened as well, and unlike the Carson, campfires are again allowed.
While the reopening of the forest is sure to make many people smile, wildfires are still burning around the region.
"I want to thank the public for their compliance, awareness and patience during these drought conditions," said Duran. "Remember, we are still in fire season and under fire restrictions. I ask that you remain vigilant."