Extreme fire danger closes Lincoln National Forest, others

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The Lincoln National Forest will implement a forest-wide closure order at 8 a.m. Wednesday, May 25, prohibiting public access across the entire 1.1 million-acre forest due to active wildfires in the state and extreme fire danger. The closure order will remain in effect until July 30, 2022, unless it is rescinded earlier. The Lincoln National Forest covers southeastern parts of New Mexico from Carrizozo to Carlsbad.

All National Forest System lands, recreation sites, campgrounds, roads, trails, and trailheads within the boundary of the Lincoln National Forest will be closed to the general public. County and state roads that cross Forest Service lands are not under the Forest Service’s jurisdiction and will remain open to vehicular traffic. Local communities will remain open for business during the closure.

Forest managers consider several factors before implementing fire restrictions or forest closures, including current fire danger and fire activity, local, regional and national fire preparedness levels, expected weather conditions, availability of firefighting resources, and the economic impacts to businesses and communities. The Lincoln National Forest coordinates fire restrictions and forest closures with federal, state, tribal and local partners.

The closure order imposing forest-wide Stage 2 fire restrictions remains in effect. Stage 2 fire restrictions prohibit the following activities on the Lincoln National Forest:

Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire or stove fire.

Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is cleared of vegetation and flammable material.

Blasting, welding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame.

Using an explosive of any kind. (Fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices are always prohibited in national forests.)

Operating any equipment powered by an internal combustion engine, including chainsaws, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Federal, state and local officers, members of an organized rescue team or firefighting force, residents using roads to access private property, and others authorized by permit may be exempt from the closure order.

Violations of the closure order carry a mandatory appearance in federal court. They are punishable as a Class B misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations and/or by imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.

The Santa Fe National ForestCarson National Forest and parts of the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands are also closed.