South Fork Campground Reopening Will Be Delayed

Alamogordo, Ruidoso, NM—3/13/2019—The South Fork Campground on the Smokey Bear Ranger District will delay reopening until 2020. 

The South Fork Campground located about 14 miles outside of Ruidoso, NM was affected by the Little Bear Fire and subsequent flood events in 2012. Cleanup and reconstruction efforts have been ongoing, including the replacement of facilities, reconstruction of a stream channel and hazardous tree removal.

Beyond the restoration work, the campground experienced another change when Mexican spotted owls moved into the campground.

“We believe we have two pairs of Mexican spotted owl in the campground,” said Wildlife Biologist Larry Cordova. “The owls came in search of new habitat after the fire burned the areas where they previously nested.”

The Forest Service will work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to undergo a formal consultation regarding the Mexican spotted owl, which is a threatened species and therefore subject to the Endangered Species Act requirements. As part of this consultation, wildlife biologists will be monitoring the birds to determine if they are breeding. If they are breeding restoration work at the campground, that includes the use of chainsaws and heavy equipment, will be delayed until September, after the owl's breeding season is over. 

“We are working hard to reopen the South Fork Campground because we know how important recreation opportunities, including designated campgrounds, are to the community,” said District Ranger Jodie Canfield. “We had originally hoped to have the campground open this July. However, given the new timelines, it’s now looking like early summer 2020.

Another reason for the delay is a safety issue. The City of Alamogordo is in the process of removing sediment from Bonito Lake, which involves the use of heavy equipment on the same road used to access the campground. A reroute of Road 107 to avoid crossing private land is also planned to start in July 2019 and will be on going.

The following campgrounds will open this summer as usual on the Smokey Bear Ranger District:

  • Baca Campground
  • Oak Grove Campground
  • Skyline Campground
  • Three Rivers Campground

Dispersed camping is allowed on most of the Lincoln National Forest. Contact your local Forest Service office for dispersed camping guidelines.


“USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.”