CIBOLA COUNTY – New Mexico is in its driest state since the 1950s, according to Cibola County Emergency Director Tony Boyd.
That is why, effective immediately, the county banned the discharge of fireworks and open burning of any kind within the county on public and private lands.
The ban does not include property within the Village of Milan and City of Grants limits or tribal lands.
Boyd made the announcement on Wednesday evening at the county commission meeting after the commission unanimously approved the proclamation.
The ban on open burning includes campfires, open fires; open burning of vegetation or rubbish and any smoke producing substance and material that creates a fire safety hazard.
Any violation of the ban may result in a fine up to $1,000 or one year in jail, or both, said Boyd.
The prolonged drought, which is expected to continue through July, has taken its toll on the county and fires are devastating to agriculture, businesses and the citizens of Cibola County, Commission Chairman Eddie Michael read from the proclamation.
Currently there are two major fires in New Mexico caused by lightning, which are continuing to burn out of control.
High winds and warm weather are creating an active fire season.
Effective May 8, because of the high risk, New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Secretary-Designate David Martin and State Forester Tony Defin announced restrictions on fireworks, smoking, campfire and open-fires on Friday, May 3. The restrictions went into effect on Wednesday, May 8.
The restrictions are imposed on all non-municipal, non-federal and non-tribal lands in the state and will remain in effect until rescinded.
Prohibited are smoking, fireworks, and campfires.
Statewide and Area
According to the Office of the State Engineer, 40 percent of the state is in an ‘exceptional’ drought, including eastern Cibola County. About 80 percent of the Cibola County is in ‘extreme’ drought status while 20 percent, the most eastern part of the county, has been identified as being in an ‘exceptional’ drought.
Last year in May nearly nine-percent of the state was identified as in ‘exceptional’ drought, according to the State Engineer.
As of May 11, the Lincoln National Forest is under Stage II Fire Restrictions, which includes no smoking or campfires. Their fire rating is “HIGH” to “VERY HIGH,” according to officials.
Parts of the Cibola National Forest began Stage II Fire Restrictions as of yesterday however the Mount Taylor Ranger District was not included. The district’s personal woodcutting permit season is delayed until there is enough precipitation to reduce the risk of human-caused fires.
The woodcutting season usually runs from mid-May through mid-December each year.
Mount Taylor District’s campgrounds and picnic areas opened on May 10 as planned. However, there are restrictions for campfires.
Go online to nmforestry.com or call 1-505-476-3325 for more information.