NORTH NEW MEXICO – It looks like something out of a horror movie, and officials say it’s illegal and dangerous.
Mysterious stick structures have been popping up in the Santa Fe National Forest, and people are stumbling upon them. Jake Matthews, who mountain bikes in the area, said he’s always noticed them all over the area.
“I’ve seen them as long as I’ve probably been riding these trails, for 10 or 12 years now. I’ve seen them that whole time,” Matthew said.
But forest officials say they’ve become more common, especially around Tesuque Peak Road at Aspen Vista.
“I don’t think they’re necessarily a nuisance, but I understand the rules are definitely the rules here,” Matthew said.
And the rules say the mysterious structures are being illegally constructed. In fact, a fine of as much as $5,000 could await the person building them. A group of people would be looking at even bigger consequences.
Forest Service officials the structures pose a health and safety hazard; one of them could collapse or could even spark a big fire, especially as some of the structures are built around fire rings.
“I guess if it’s something they’re trying to do and they’re being proactive about it, that’s a good thing,” said Robert Matthews, Jake’s brother. “As far as trail work and stuff like that, I think it’s also a good thing. The more everyone works together (the more) it’s going to be a better experience for everybody.”
One stick structure that KOB crews were able to find on Sunday was relatively small compared to some that Forest Service officials say they’ve seen in the area. Some stand two stories tall, measuring 20 feet in diameter.
Now they’re working to dismantle them.
“They’re typically removed from the trails, so you kind of see them through the trees,” Jake Matthews said. “But they don’t really impact anything I do up here, personally.”
For now, officials are asking people who come upon the structures to report them to any nearby Ranger District office, so that the forest can continue to be explored without risk.
“It’s great that we have access to all these trails,” Jake Matthews said. “Anything we can do to continue promoting that access (and) continue building trails out here I think is great for our economy, and for the city as a whole.”