Forest Service Takes Steps to Reduce Human Caused Wildfire during Global Pandemic

Silver City, NM – April 15, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, Southwestern Region is enacting a campfire ban to protect the health and safety of employees and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning April 15 and until further notice, igniting, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire will be prohibited on all five national forests in New Mexico and national grasslands on the Cibola in Oklahoma and Texas.

As we move into fire season in the Southwest, a campfire ban will be effective as of April 15 on all five national forests in New Mexico, which include the Carson, Cibola, Gila, Lincoln and Santa Fe. The ban will help reduce the potential risk of exposure to COVID-19 that a large wildfire and the resulting large groups of first responders would pose to firefighters and communities. “We are committed to providing recreation opportunities where possible, while keeping employees, the public, and our communities safe from the virus,” said Gila National Forest Supervisor Adam Mendonca, “Wildland firefighters aren’t immune to this virus and we are implementing this campfire ban to reduce the exposure in responding to preventable human-caused fires. We are all in this together, and the more everyone does right now to help prevent wildfires, the more resources will be available at the most critical time,” added Mendonca.

The campfire ban is in alignment with recent statements by the Forest Service and guidance from federal, state and local authorities, asking people to “stay home and save lives” and if you do decide to visit the national forest, to please recreate responsibly.

The following is prohibited under the April 15 campfire restriction order:

  • Igniting, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, including charcoal grills and barbecues, coal and wood burning stoves.

Violating the campfire ban may result in an appearance in federal court, fines, and possible time in jail. Forest visitors will still be able to use pressurized liquid or gas devices (stoves, grills or lanterns) with shut-off valves, in an area at least three feet from any flammable materials. While these restrictions are in place, the majority of the five national forests in New Mexico are still open, and dispersed camping – outside of developed campsites – and other recreation opportunities are available.

Visit the Interactive Visitor Map at for more information on available activities and closed sites. For additional information on COVID-19, go to Information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is available at:

For information on the Gila National Forest, check out our website at or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.