The Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness areas of the Gila National Forest are scheduled to re-open this Friday, August 9th, 2013 at 6:00 am.  Areas had been closed due to fire activity and after-fire effects such as flooding, erosion, and hazard areas.

Forest Supervisor Kelly Russell says “I am pleased to announce that these previously closed areas will soon be open for recreationists and hunters alike.  When visiting these burned areas, visitors are asked to be alert and to use extreme caution especially when rain is forecast as flooding and flashfloods can easily occur.  Camping is not advised near rivers, creeks, arroyos, or in flood plains located within or adjacent to burned areas due to flood potential.”

Some hazards to be aware of if you go: because fires kill trees, they can easily fall with only a slight breeze.  Rolling rocks are a hazard as precipitation loosens the soil and vegetation that may hold them on slopes.  Of course, flooding can happen at any time due to lack of vegetation, and can be caused by runoff from snowmelt and rain even if it falls far upstream.  Visitors should also be wary of tree roots, stumps, and the potential of stepping in a deep hole.

Even though closed areas are re-opening, some areas will remain temporarily closed due to flooding.  These areas include: Highway 152 areas including Kingston, Lower Gallinas, and Iron Creek Campgrounds; Reserve Ranger District areas Willow Creek, Gilita, Ben Lilly, and South Fork Negrito Campgrounds; forest roads Silver Creek Road #523, Middle Percha Road #40E, and Quaking Aspen Road #527; forest trails Silver Creek #146, Spring Canyon #721, Mimbres River #77 and #78; and portions of the Catwalk National Recreation Trail.

For current information, check with the local Ranger District office for the area you wish to visit.