Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Fun on the Fourth.(Final)

Byline: Jeff Jones and Tania Soussan Journal Staff Writers

FIRE-FREE HOLIDAY WEEKEND

State Offers Lots of Ways To Celebrate Independence Day Safely

The Rio Grande bosque is closed in Albuquerque. Campfires are forbidden in most of New Mexico's backcountry. Mayors across the state are pleading with residents not to light fireworks.

That's the bone-dry reality in drought-ridden, fire-imperiled New Mexico as the state approaches the long Fourth of July weekend.

But even with the fire and fireworks restrictions, there's still plenty to do in cities, towns and wild areas around the state.

"We're going to have this beautiful weekend," said Jon Hendry, marketing director for the state Tourism Department. "The weather's going to be incredible. New Mexico's open for business."

Unlike last summer when even more severe fire danger forced the closure of several recreation areas, almost all of the state is open for hiking, camping and other activities this year, Hendry said Wednesday.

Continuing drought and high fire danger mean there are restrictions on many public land areas, mostly limiting where campfires and smoking are allowed.

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and two dozen mayors on Wednesday urged New Mexicans not to use any fireworks at all over the holiday.

"For this year, I'm asking the people of New Mexico -- and all these mayors from all across the cities are asking you, too -- particularly if you live in a fire-prone area, to avoid using personal fireworks on this Fourth of July," Denish said at a Capitol news conference. …

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