Protecting Public Health and Safety

Your safety and the safety of all forest visitors, employees and volunteers is our primary concern.  When necessary, the Southwestern Region and each forest must issue closure orders or restrictions on activities.   Abandoned campfires are the leading human cause of wildfire.  The USDA Forest Service takes necessary steps to protect communities and our natural and cultural resources. The region wide campfire restrictions were rescinded on July 23, 2020.  However, each forest continues to set fire restrictions based on the local situation.  Review access and restrictions with your local forest. in the area you wish to visit.   

Forest Service officials are providing recreation opportunities where possible, while keeping employees, the public, and our communities safe from the COVID-19 virus. At the same time, we have had an active fire season during a global pandemic. Officials are continually reviewing and updating guidance.

Recreation Opportunities

The Southwestern Region continues to implement a local strategy for opening of developed recreation sites based on risk assessments, available cleaning supplies and staffing available for site maintenance. Preparation and planning are key to reducing waste and minimizing natural resource damage. Respect wildlife and be considerate of other visitors. Leave what you find, Pack it in, Pack it out and Leave No Trace.

The vast majority of the National Forests acres remain open for dispersed camping and use. Specific site closures, are managed at the each forest. Please review the Alerts and Notices for each forest as well as the specific recreation sites you wish to visit.

Limited Group Sizes in New Mexico

The group size limit order 03-00-00-21-001 restricts entering open areas with a group in excess of the number specified in any public health order. All visitors still must comply with all current public health orders, including limiting the number of people in a group.

The Restricted Area includes any areas and/or facilities in the following National Forests and Grasslands:

  • New Mexico
    • Carson National Forest
    • Cibola National Forest
    • Gila National Forest
    • Lincoln National Forest
    • Santa Fe National Forest
    • Kiowa National Grassland
  • Oklahoma/Texas
    • Black Kettle & McClellan National Grasslands
    • Rita Blanca National Grasslands

View Group Size Order

Fireworks, Explosives and Sparks Prohibited.

Date(s): May 30, 2019 - Jun 1, 2023

To prevent fires and for public safety, throughout the Southwestern Region, these actions are prohibited: 

  • Possessing, discharging or using any kind of firework or other pyrotecnitc devices.
  • Using explosives. 
  • Operating an internal or extenal combustion engine without a spart arresting device in effective working order.

View Full Order 03-00-00-19-001

Regional Motor Vehicle Code

Date(s): May 30, 2019 - Jun 1, 2023

Throughout the Southwestern Region, these actions are prohibited:

  • Operating any type of vehicle that does not comply with the Motor Vehicle Code for that state. 36 CFR 261.54 (a)
  • Operating any type of vehicle in a manner inconsistent with the Motor Vehicle Code for that state. 36 CFR 261.54 (b)
  • Using a road for commercial hauling without a permit or written authorization. 36 CFR 261.54 (c)
  • Operating a vehicle in violation of the Motor Vehicle Code for that state. 36 CFR 261.54 (d)
  • Being on the road while operating any type of vehicle in violation of the Motor Vehicle Code for that state. 36 CFR 261.54 (e)
  • Operating any type of vehicle carelessly, recklessly, or without regard for the rights or safety of other persons or in a manner or at a speed that would endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property. 36 CFR 261.54 (f)

View full Order 03-00-00-19-002

Southwestern Region and Forest Orders Map

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