By the summer of 2016, the public again may be enjoying the Lincoln National Forest at South Fork Campground, the Ruidoso News reported.

Smokey Bear District Ranger Dave Warnack said that goal is the focus of the district along with ensuring that hiking and biking trails are sustained for visitors to the Ruidoso area.

The Little Bear Fire swept through the forest in June 2012, burning about 45,000 acres and damaging South Fork as well as West Lake, a campground operated by the city of Alamogordo, which owns the Bonito reservoir. But the major damage to the lake, a source of drinking water and recreation for Alamogordo and Holloman Air Force Base, occurred after the fire as summer rain washed down an estimated 250,000 cubic yards of ash, silt and partially-burned trees.

The city was awarded $6.1 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in June to cover about 75% of project costs associated with restoring the lake through sediment and debris removal, but today, the lake essentially remains closed to the public except for viewing, Alamogordo Mayor Pro-tem Robert Rentschler said.

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