Residents help to keep eyes on bosque

Posted at: 05/22/2013 6:50 PM
Updated at: 05/22/2013 6:58 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Fire chiefs in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County say they have good reasons for keeping the Bosque open to the public in a time of high fire danger in the riverside forest. Most of the Bosque from Cochiti Dam to Elephant Butte is closed.

“ We utilize our citizens to be our eyes and ears in the Bosque,” said Albuquerque Fire Chief James Breen. “ When they’re walking the trails, if they should see any illegal activity or any smoke or flames or something that would indicate a fire, they’re going to get on their cell phones.”

Hiker Michelle Lovato agreed.

“ I would call 911 immediately and get some help right away, no doubt about it,” Lovato said.

“ I  would try to contact the Fire Department as soon as possible,” said Mike Moreno, also out for a walk in the Bosque. “ I would call on my cell phone, see if I could get somebody out here.”

There are other reasons. The Bosque forest in Bernalillo County is thinned out much better than it is to the north and south of the metro area. The fuels are monitored daily to see how flammable they are. Things can change in a hurry.

“ In the next 30 days, when it gets hotter and drier and if the winds start to blow, we’re going to be looking at increasing our fire restriction levels,” said Breen. “ It’ll be like we did last year, when we restricted access to just the established trails.”

That would mean hikers and bikers and runners sticking to the paved trails, and still no open flames, no smoking, and no fireworks, ever.