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Drought Closes Most of Santa Fe National Forest

June 22, 2013

By The Albuquerque Journal

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The Santa Fe National Forest, dried out by drought and already hit by three major wildfires this year, will be closed to the public starting next week. Denise Ottaviano, acting public affairs officer for the forest, said the closure is effective at 8 a.m. Monday.

The only part of the Santa Fe forest that will not be closed because of fire danger is the Rio Chama Scenic Corridor between El Vado and Abiquiu Lake, which will remain accessible under fire restrictions.

The 1.6 million acre forest, which includes parts of both the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo mountains east and west of Santa Fe, has been under Stage II fire restrictions since June 5.

Those restrictions include bans on campfires and other wood or charcoal fires, smoking except within a vehicle or building, operating a chain saw, use of fireworks and driving off most forest roads.

The forest`s Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District, including the Pecos Wilderness north of Santa Fe, was closed on June 5. About 3,600 acres in a remote section of the Pecos Wilderness have been burned by the Jaroso Fire, which started on June 10 from a lightning strike.

The two other major fires in the forest so far this year are the Tres Lagunas Fire, which started from a power line that came down in strong winds north of Pecos on May 30 and has burned 10,000 acres, and the Thompson Ridge Fire in the Jemez, which also started from a downed power line and has burned 24,000 acres since May 31.

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Copyright Albuquerque Journal (NM) 2013

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Story image: This photo released courtesy Zach Bryan shows a massive plume of smoke rises from the Thompson Ridge Fire burning in the Jemez Mountains north of Rio Rancho, N.M., on Tuesday, June 4, 2013. AP Photo/Courtesy Zach Bryan

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