By Julie Anne Overton
SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST
The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) is ready to welcome the large number of visitors who traditionally celebrate Independence Day weekend in the great outdoors. But if you decide to take advantage of the recreational opportunities on the SFNF, it’s always good to “Know Before You Go” (https://www.fs.fed.us/visit/know-before-you-go).
The SFNF remains in Stage 1 fire restrictions. Campfires are allowed only in developed campgrounds and picnic areas with established fire rings and grills. Smoking is restricted to enclosed vehicles or buildings, developed recreation sites and areas cleared of all flammable materials. Fire prevention teams will be patrolling, and anyone who violates Stage 1 restrictions will be ticketed.
Fireworks are always prohibited on national forests and grasslands. No exceptions, even for America’s 241st birthday on Tuesday. Law enforcement will be patrolling, and again, violators will be cited. Businesses that cater to SFNF visitors on both the east and west sides of the forest are open and ready for a busy summer weekend. All campgrounds are open, including the Jemez Falls and Redondo Campgrounds which were closed during the recent Cajete Fire. A segment of the Las Conchas Trail (#137) remains closed between the last bridge coming from the Las Conchas Trailhead (before the trail ascends) and the East Fork Trailhead. The Gilman Tunnels are closed for remedial rock work. All SFNF offices will be closed for the federal holiday on Tuesday, July 4.
Camping: Many campgrounds require reservations through recreation.gov. Please be a good neighbor and be considerate of other campers. Keep your campsite at least 100 feet from rivers and streams to protect riparian areas. Bring plenty of water for both drinking and fully extinguishing fires in developed campgrounds. If you discover an unattended campfire, use 911 to report it, and do what you can to put it out. And finally, if you pack it in, please pack it home. Take your trash home so you don’t overwhelm limited trash receptacles on the forest.
Dispersed Use/Off-Road Vehicles: Picnicking and camping are allowed outside developed recreation sites unless an area is posted otherwise. Drive on existing roads to prevent resource damage, and keep your campsite within 150 feet of the road. Refer to the Motor Vehicle Use Maps to determine which forest roads, trails and areas allow motorized vehicles, including off-road vehicles. Violators who take vehicles off the designated system will be cited.
Wildlife: Remember you are sharing the outdoors with a variety of species that make their home in the SFNF. Be bear aware and keep campsites clean. Store food away from tents and “bear-proof” food and garbage. Don’t sleep in clothes you cooked in, and don’t take anything with an odor into your tent. Lock your vehicles when you leave your campsite and before you go to sleep. Don’t feed wildlife, and keep your pets leashed for their safety.
Okay, then – enough telling you what NOT to do. Take a look at the wide array of recreation opportunities on the Santa Fe National Forest and head into the woods. Have a safe and fire-free Fourth of July.