Protecting Public Health and Safety

Protecting Public Health and Safety

The purpose of these orders is to protect the public health and safety, reflecting federal and state guidance to limit the spread of Covid-19

Abandoned campfires are the leading human cause of wildfire, so the USDA Forest Service is taking necessary steps to protect communities and our natural and cultural resources by implementing region-wide campfire restrictions. The purpose of this ban is to mitigate as much risk as possible to protect the health and safety of our wildland firefighters and first responders so they are available to safely respond and manage future incidents.  Wildland firefighters are not immune to this virus and we are implementing fire restrictions earlier than usual this year 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 times.

In spite of these bans, there are currently several large wild fires within the region.  Many areas are closed to recreation and traffic due to the danger and to allow fire fighters to more safely battle these blazes.  Each forest is working to update recreation site status and conditions, but during large fire situations there may be pressing safety issues that delay updating the websites.  

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 are preparing for an upcoming fire season during a global pandemic. Forest Service officials will review this guidance on an ongoing basis.

Please follow all social distancing, group size and guidance.

Recently Opened Recreation Sites

The Southwestern Region continues to implement a state by state strategy for phased reopening of developed recreation sites based on risk assessments and available cleaning supplies. The vast majority of the National Forests acres remain open for dispersed camping and use. Changes occur weekly across the region, generally taking effect each Friday. 

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.

Developed Recreation Sites Closures  

Specific site closures, whether to limit the spread of Covid-19, fire fighting operations or other reasons are managed at the each forest in the Southwestern Region.  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 03-00-00-20-017 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

Campfire, Stove Fire and General Fire Restrictions

To prevent accidental wildfires and minimize health and safety risks to our visitors, employees and local citizens, two campfire bans are in force across the region.  Additionally, there is a recreational shooting closure in effect on the Prescott, Tonto and Coronado National Forests in Arizona.  Stage II fire restrictions are in place are in place at the forest level across the region.   Please do your part to reduce the risk of wildfire this season! 

Fire Restrictions - Arizona - Order Number 03-00-00-20-018

The following acts are prohibited in the areas as described in this Order:

  • Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire.
Restricted Areas
  • Arizona
    • Apache Sitgreaves National Forests
    • Coconino National Forest
    • Coronado National Forest
    • Kaibab Natinal Forest
    • Prescott National Forest
    • Tonto National Forest

View Full Order 03-00-00-20-018

Fire Restrictions - New Mexico - Order Number 03-00-00-20-019

The following acts are prohibited in the areas as described in this Order:

  • Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire.
Restricted Areas
  • New Mexico
    • Carson National Forest
    • Cibola National Forest
    • Gila National Forest
    • Lincoln Natinal Forest
    • Santa Fe National Forest
    • Kiowa National Grassland
  • Oklahoma / Texas
    • Black Kettle & McClellan National Grasslands
    • Rita Blanca National Grasslands

View Full Order 03-00-00-20-019

Firearm Restrictions

The following acts are prohibited in the areas as described in this Order:  

  • Discharging a firearm, air rifle, or gas gun. 36 C.F.R. § 261.58(m)

Restricted Areas

  • Coronado National Forest
  • Prescott National Forest
  • Tonto National Forest

View Full Order 03-00-00-20-007

Southwestern Region and Forest Orders Map

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r3/home/?cid=FSEPRD716261