Officials Plan for Lincoln National Forest Closure Due to Fire Danger

Alamogordo, NM (May 5, 2011) – As fire danger increases in southeastern New Mexico, Fire Management Officials with the Lincoln National Forest (LNF) are making plans to close the forest for public access and use.
The LNF closure order, to be signed by Forest Supervisor Robert Trujillo will go into effect, 8:00 a.m., May 12, 2011.
“Extremely dry conditions have warranted closure of the Lincoln National Forest,” said Robert Trujillo. “While campfire and smoking restrictions have been effective in terms of minimizing the number of fires, we are at the point that we cannot afford the risk of any human-caused fires. We are not only concerned about the risk to communities and natural resources, we are also concerned about the potential difficulties evacuating recreationists from remote areas should a wildfire start. We will continue to monitor fire danger indices to ensure that our management decisions are reflecting on-the-ground needs to protect our communities” he said.
Going into or being upon Lincoln National Forest lands, including campgrounds and day use picnic areas, will be prohibited. All National Forest System Roads and trails will be closed, but all interstates, state and county roads through the Lincoln National Forest will remain open. Additionally, the use of Fireworks is strictly prohibited on all National Forest System Lands.

The following persons are exempt from this order:

  • Any Federal, State or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.
  • Residents living within the closed area and their guests, landowners or lessees of land within the closed area for access to their owned or leased property.
  • Persons engaged in a business delivering goods, packages or services to private property or contractors performing services for the government.
  • Persons with a written and approved entry permit or authorization letter, i.e., Grazing Permittees.

Contact the Forest Supervisor or local District Ranger for additional information on restrictions or special use permit availability.

The Lincoln National Forest will reopen to the public when sufficient precipitation is received to adequately reduce our extremely dry conditions and reduce the risk of wildfire to a manageable level. A significant amount of moisture will be required to reduce the extreme fire danger on the Lincoln National Forest.
The area closures do not affect Federal and State Highways that lead into the mountain communities. Please do not stop on the sides of any highways. Property owners and their guests will continue to have access to private lands within the Forest.
“Business will be as usual,” said Cloudcroft Mayor Dave Venable. “We want to inform those who have made or contemplate making travel plans for New Mexico and our southern communities that our stores, restaurants, lodging and other services are available and will be open. Also, all special events to include May Fair – May 24; Mountain Music Festival – June 18; High Rolls Cherry Festival – June 18 and 19 will go on as scheduled. All private campgrounds will be open. Come on up and enjoy our mountain communities and hospitality.”

Contact the local chambers of commerce or arts councils for the City of Alamogordo, Villages of Cloudcroft, Tularosa, Ruidoso, Ruidoso Downs, Mayhill, Sacramento, Weed, Timberon, Capitan and Queen to obtain a calendar of events. Visitors are encouraged to visit these mountain communities.
“Even though the forest will be closed, this closure action is not permanent,” said Ruidoso Mayor Gus Raymond Alborn. “We encourage visitors to visit Ruidoso and our mountain communities and remind them that safety for our visitors and citizens is first and foremost.” Special events will be occurring in Ruidoso over the next several months to include the “4th Annual Smokey Bear Days” – May 6-7, in Capitan; the Aspencash Motorcycle Run & Trade Show – Ruidoso Convention Center – May 19-22 or Ruidoso Downs Racetrack: Opening Day – May 27, 2011.
The following offices can provide information on upcoming events:  Cloudcroft Chamber of Commerce – (575) 682-2733, Ruidoso Chamber of Commerce- (575) 257-7395, and Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce – (575) 887-6516.

Violations of these prohibitions are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six months or both.
16 USC 551 and 18 USC 3559 and 3571.
To report a fire, call the 24-hour toll free number at 1-877-695-1663 or (575) 434-2286 or dial 911.
For more information on current fire restrictions on public lands in New Mexico and Arizona, call 1-877-864-6985. This is a toll-free hotline sponsored by natural resource agencies in the Southwest.  Please visit our website:  Southwest Area Wildland Fire Operations at http://gacc.nifc.gov/swcc
For more information about the Fire Closure Order or the Lincoln National Forest, please contact the Supervisor’s Office at (575) 434-7200, or one of the following District Offices:  Smokey Bear Ranger District – (575) 257-4095, Sacramento Ranger District – (575) 682-2551, and Carlsbad Ranger District – (575) 885-4181. All offices are open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Please visit the Lincoln National Forest website at:  www.fs.usda.gov/lincoln and follow us on Twitter at:  lincolnsmokey@twitter.com.