JEMEZ SPRINGS, N.M. (KRQE) – A flyer shared online hundreds of times makes big, but false, claims about the Santa Fe National Forest “closing” nearly all of its land “permanently.”
At 1.6 million acres, the Santa Fe National Forest is described as some of the best mountain scenery in the Southwest. It boasts 300,000 acres of designated wilderness: the Pecos, San Pedro Parks, Chama River Canyon and Dome.
“They’re managed as places where natural biological processes are allowed to occur without any kind of human interference,” SFNF spokesman Clifton Russell said.
“Wilderness” means restricted access by people. Motorized vehicles aren’t allowed neither are bikes or even motorized/power wheelchairs. The theory is to leave the land as you found it.
In total, the protected wilderness areas make up about 19-percent of the Santa Fe National Forest.
But now, someone is making inaccurate claims that soon all of the SFNF will become wilderness land.
The flyer posted to Facebook and being shared hundreds of times claims that SFNF plans to close “almost 100% of our National Forest permanently!” It goes on to say that “These restrictions will impair the quality of your life and can destroy many of the businesses in the Jemez Valley.”
KRQE News 13 took the hefty claims to officials with the SFNF, who said none of it is true and that it appears to be a case of misinterpretation.
The confusion likely stems from an evaluation the SFNF is currently undergoing, which takes place every 10 to 15 years. It’s called the Forest Revision Plan, and part of it looks at wilderness areas.
“This is just an assessment to evaluate potential places that could become wilderness,” Russell said.
During the assessment, the public and SFNF officials come together to discuss the process in a series of public meetings that are taking place this month.
The final approval for what is added or removed as protected wilderness comes all the way from Congress in Washington, Russell said. And Congress’s decision won’t come anytime soon, as the evaluation is a lengthy process.
KRQE News 13 reached out to the person who posted the flyer on Facebook. That person said the flyer was handed to them by someone else, who asked that they share it online.