EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Gila National Forest in Southern New Mexico is now limiting the length of stay for the entire forest to 14 days out of any 30 consecutive days, according to an announcement sent by officials on Sunday, May 28.

The purpose of the order is to protect natural resources from “degradation due to long-term use and to maximize the availability of camping areas for all recreational visitors,” according to the news release.

“Long term use of campsites harms wildlife habitats and watersheds by compacting soils, which damages the roots of plants, contributing to lost vegetation. Erosion of soil and exposed human waste pollutes local waterways,” said Gila National Forest Supervisor Camille Howes. “This order provides a chance for periods of rest, allowing soils and vegetation to recover between uses. It also provides management consistency between forests, which helps visitors know what to expect.”

Limiting the length of stay to 14 days on the Gila National Forest also allows other visitors opportunities for use, according to the announcement.

The order is in effect through May 18, 2025 and includes all National Forest System lands administered by the Gila National Forest, including those identified as Apache National Forest within New Mexico.