Some merchants in Jemez Springs are concerned that the fire season will extinguish their businesses even if no actual blazes erupt.
These business owners say that when officials restrict the type of activities that can take place in The Santa Fe National Forest it discourages people from visiting the area altogether and thus puts a damper on their income.
We understand the potential fire danger and the need to place restrictions on burning, says Garth Bascom, co-owner of Elk Mountain Lodge Bed & Breakfast in Jemez Springs. But people seem to think that when those restrictions go into effect that the entire area is closed, and no one can come up here.
This concern is heightened as the summer vacation season approaches, with some fire restrictions already in place. Weve already had people who made reservations for June call and cancel, Bascom says. That costs us revenue, and this has been going on for some time.
The situation is worse when a fire actually breaks out near Jemez Springs, even though the village itself may not be affected, according to Tanya Struble, manager of the Giggling Springs Hot Springs.
The most obvious example, says Struble, occurred during the Las Conchas Fire that ravaged more than 150,000 acres of the Santa National Forest in the summer of 2011.
People thought the entire area around Jemez was closed, Struble recalls. But we only had about three days of smoke in the village. The rest of the time, the sky was beautiful, the road was open and so were most of the businesses.
The primary message these business owners want to deliver is that even if camping or camp fires are banned, there are still many things to in and around Jemez Springs. Bascom suggests activities like hiking, mountain biking, visiting the Jemez Historical Site or exploring the Valles Caldera.
Our business is an outdoor hot spring pool, Struble says. Even with fire restrictions in place, there are ways to get out into nature and have fun.