Silver City, NM; July 10, 2012--Stage 1 Fire and Smoking restrictions will be lifted on the Gila National Forest beginning Thursday, July 12, 2012, at midnight. “Thanks to the recent rain showers, humidities have been elevated and fine fuels (grasses and forbs) are greening up, which has lowered fire danger on the Forest prompting fire restrictions to be rescinded,” says Forest Fire Management Officer Gabe Holguin. Stage 1 restrictions were initially implemented on June 4, 2012.
 
Forest Supervisor Kelly Russell is appreciative that community members and visitors were supportive of the restrictions and did their upmost in preventing human-caused fires. “Without everyone's personal responsibility in fire prevention, the Forest could have easily had several human-caused fires considering the severe drought conditions,” adds Forest Supervisor Russell.
In the near future, Forest managers are also looking to open other areas within the Gila Wilderness that were temporarily closed due to the Whitewater-Baldy Fire Complex. The eastern portion of the Fire Complex was recently opened on June 30th.
 
Forest visitors are reminded that while fire danger has decreased, there are still a few areas that remain dry. When using a campfire, visitors should always completely extinguish campfires prior to leaving their campsites and extinguish all smoking materials (cigarettes, cigars, etc.) prior to disposing of them.
Lightning, thunderstorms, and flashfloods are also a concern this time of year. A clear sky can change from a blue sky to dark, ominous clouds within a short period of time.
 
Know Before You Go!
•          Become familiar with weather conditions and plan accordingly.
•          Leave an itinerary with family and friends.
•          When heavy thunderstorms are expected:
o   If camping, place the campsite on higher ground and avoid camping in drainage areas such as rivers, creeks, or arroyos and especially in narrow canyons.
             Flash floods can quickly develop during heavy thunderstorms! During these downpours, extreme caution should be exercised when crossing any river, creek, or arroyo.
o   Know the weather patterns of the area!  In mountainous areas, thunderstorms typically develop in the early afternoon, so plan to hike early in the day and be down the mountain by noon.
Useful websites:
Forest web site:  http://fs.usda.gov/gila
National Incident Information (InciWeb):  http://inciweb.org/incident/2870/
Flickr (photos and maps):  http://www.flickr.com/photos/gilaforest

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