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Fire danger closes Sandia Mountains

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FOR THE RECORD: This story stated that Highway 536, the road to Sandia Crest, would be closed at N.M. 14 starting at 8 a.m. on June 10. However, access to homes and businesses on Highway 536 will be allowed from N.M. 14 up to the Forest Service boundary, about 2 miles west of N.M. 14.

Closure starts June 10 and will continue ‘until further notice’

Citing prolonged drought and high fire danger, Cibola National Forest officials said Thursday they plan to close most of the Sandia Mountains – including the road to Sandia Crest – starting at 8 a.m. on June 10.

“This year’s drought on top of the previous year’s drought has resulted in a very high fire danger,” said Brent Davidson, assistant fire management officer for the Sandia Ranger District.

The closure will continue “until further notice,” and Davidson said officials will re-evaluate the situation as the monsoon season gets under way.

“Obviously, the (fire) fuel situation is not going to change until we get some rain,” he said. “We will open as soon as we can. We realize that people want to use their forest for recreation. We don’t want to keep people from doing that.”

The Stage III fire restrictions mean that all areas of the Sandia district in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties will be closed except areas listed specifically as open. Highway 536 – the road to Sandia Crest – will be closed at N.M. 14.

The only open trails will be portions of Forest Trail 365, including secondary trails associated with Forest Trail 365 in the Sandia foothills outside of the wilderness boundary.

Stage III fire restrictions will go into effect in the Mountainair district south of Tijeras into the Manzano Mountains on June 10 as well.

The closure order is expected to be issued next week, Davidson said, and full details will be posted on the Forest Service website.

The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District closed the bosque in Valencia, Socorro and most of Sandoval county on May 23. The trails west of the clear ditch in Corrales are open, but the forest area is closed.

The bosque in Albuquerque and Bernalillo county are still open.

Open areas in the Sandia Ranger District will also include:

⋄  Sandia Peak Tram and Sandia Crest Observation Area (only available by tram)

⋄  Sandia Ranger District Administrative Site

⋄  Tijeras Pueblo Interpretive Trail

Much of the public land in the state is already under Stage I or Stage II restrictions. Stage I fire restrictions prohibit fires except in Forest Service camps or picnic areas, and permit the use of petroleum-fueled stoves and lanterns. Stage II fire restrictions prohibit all fires and petroleum-fueled stoves.

According to the Forest Service, New Mexico areas currently under either Stage I or Stage II restrictions include:

Carson National Forest, Cibola National Forest Magdalena Ranger District and National Grasslands (will enter Stage I restrictions on June 3), Gila National Forest, Lincoln National Forest, Santa Fe National Forest and the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

National Park Service: Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Petroglyph National Monument and Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument.

New Mexico State Forestry: All state and private land (including New Mexico State Parks) that is non-municipal, non-federal and non-tribal.

Bureau of Land Management: Albuquerque District, Las Cruces District and Pecos District.

Bureau of Indian Affairs: Pueblo de Cochiti, Pueblo of Acoma, Pueblo of Isleta, Pueblo of Jemez, Pueblo of San Felipe, Pueblo of Sandia, Pueblo of Santa Ana, Pueblo of Santo Domingo, Pueblo of Zia and Pueblo of Zuni.

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