Fire managers on the Cuba Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) plan to implement the Ojitos and Poso/Sanchez prescribed pile burns sometime between Jan. 13 and March 31. The timing will be dependent on favorable conditions, including snow pack, fuel moisture levels, air quality, wind direction and weather forecasts.
The pile burns are designed to remove woody debris from fuels reduction project areas. The Ojitos pile burn, located 1 mile east of the Rancho del Chaparral Girl Scout Camp, totals 379 acres, and the 90-acre Poso/Sanchez pile burn is east of the community of Llaves and the Dead Man’s Peak lookout tower. Prescribed fire is always managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.
Winter is an optimal time to burn slash piles because snow on the ground keeps the fire from spreading to adjacent vegetation. Generally, pile burns produce less smoke and burn with less intensity than broadcast burns across a larger landscape. Small blocks may be treated over time to decrease daily smoke volume.
Smoke from the Ojitos pile burn may be visible from Cuba, Jemez Springs, San Ysidro and U.S. Route 550. Smoke from the Poso/Sanchez pile burn is likely to be visible from Regina, Lindrith, El Vado, Chama, Abiquiu, Tierra Amarilla, N.M. State Highway 96 and U.S. Route 84.
The SFNF manages all prescribed fires in compliance with New Mexico state regulations on air quality and smoke management. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures. Information on air quality and protecting your health by using the 5-3-1 visibility method can be found online at the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) website at https://nmtracking.org/fire. People with health concerns can also call NMDOH at 505-827-0006 for additional information. For information on the HEPA filter loan program, go to https://facnm.org/smoke#smokeanchor5.
For more information, contact the Cuba Ranger Station at 575-289-3264.