Safety Reminders For Easter Weekend Visitors To The SFNF
SANTA FE, NM – April 19, 2019 – Warmer temperatures and a holiday weekend are expected to draw visitors to trails, campgrounds and other popular sites on the Santa Fe National Forest this weekend. If you decide to celebrate Easter or Passover in the great outdoors, please make safety your top priority.
While this winter brought above-average moisture and snowpack to much of the SFNF, Northern New Mexico is entering the 2019 fire season. Unattended campfires are the leading human cause of wildfire. If you plan to gather family and friends around a campfire, please do it responsibly and safely by following Smokey Bear’s campfire safety procedures. Never leave your campsite until the fire is completely extinguished and cold to the touch. And remember fireworks are prohibited on all national forests.
Dogs are welcome on the SFNF, but owners are responsible for the safety of their pets and other visitors. National Forest Service guidelines require pets to be on a leash no longer than six feet at all times in developed recreation areas, parking lots and on interpretive trails. In general, dogs should always be under the owner’s command. Be sensitive to the fact that other visitors, especially children, may not be comfortable around dogs, and don’t let your dog wander off trail where it might encounter wildlife. And yes, even though you are in the woods, you still have to clean up after your dog.
The forest is home to many wildlife species, and it’s always a good idea to remember to keep wildlife wild so they don’t become habituated to humans. Photograph and watch wildlife from a safe distance. Black bears are active and searching for food after their winter rest. Be bear aware and know what to do if you do encounter a bear. If you are camping, store food and trash in bear-resistant containers away from your tent. Keep your pets secured. The SFNF is also home to mountain lions. Review safety tips from the Mountain Lion Foundation.
Hazard trees are weakened trees that pose a danger to people or property as a result of structural defects caused by age, fire or disease. Be aware of your surroundings and look up when hiking on trails, avoid dense patches of dead trees, and stay out of the forest if there are strong winds that could blow weakened trees down.
Adhere to the Leave No Trace principles of outdoor ethics to leave your favorite part of the SFNF ready for the next visitors to enjoy. Refer to the 2019 Motor Vehicle Use Maps, available at all SFNF offices and online, so you know which roads and trails are open to motor vehicle traffic.
Finally, whether you are just out for the day or planning to stay overnight, always let someone know your plans, including your itinerary and when you expect to return home. Do not rely on cell phones for safety because you may not always have cell coverage in remote sections of the forest.