EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – On Monday, officials with the Lincoln National Forest announced that they will implement a forest-wide closure order at 8 a.m, beginning Wednesday May 25th.

The closure would prohibit 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The closure order will remain in effect until July 30, 2022, unless it is rescinded earlier.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.

Officials say several factors were considered 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.

Additionally, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park will implement additional closures to park areas due to increased fire risk. These areas include:

• All trails in the Guadalupe Mountains Wilderness are closed to public use. This includes all the following trails: Bear Canyon, Bowl, Blue Ridge, Bush Mountain, El Capitan, Foothills, Frijole, Juniper, Marcus, McKittrick Canyon, Permian Reef, Smith Spring, and Tejas.

• The McKittrick Canyon Road, including the McKittrick Canyon Visitor Center are closed.

• The Dog Canyon developed area, including the Indian Meadow Nature Trail and the Dog Canyon Campground, are closed.

• The Frijole Ranch Road, the Frijole Horse Corral Campground, and the Frijole Ranch Museum are closed.

• All previous closures and restrictions of April 14 and April 21 remain in effect.

The Salt Basin Dunes trailhead and trail remain open; caution is advised due to heat risk. The Pine Springs area, including the Pine Springs Visitor Center, Campground, and Trailhead will remain open.

Trails in the Pine Springs area open for day use only are Guadalupe Peak, Devil’s Hall, and Pinery.

The Southwest area of New Mexico and far West Texas is experiencing extreme fire danger and wildfire activity throughout the area. Nearly 5,800 wildland firefighters and support personnel are assigned to uncontained large fires in the Southwest, Southern and Rocky Mountain areas. The Energy Release Component (ERC) for the wildland fire potential fuel load within the area of the park remains at the 97th percentile.

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

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