Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) are planning to strategically implement prescribed burns across the forest this spring to reduce hazardous fuels before the onset of the 2022 wildland fire season.
With the second La Niña winter in a row and persistent drought conditions, the SFNF could see an early start to wildfire season this year. Fuels treatments are an effective way to slow wildfires and change fire behavior. The decision to implement a specific prescribed burn depends on multiple conditions, including resource availability, fuel moisture levels, air quality, ventilation, and forecasted weather and winds.
Each prescribed burn is designed to meet specific objectives and is managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.The prescribed burns planned this spring are designed to protect communities by reducing the accumulation of hazardous fuels and decreasing the potential for future severe wildfire.
If conditions are favorable, SFNF fire managers plan to implement the following projects this spring:
- The 650-acre Cordovas prescribed burn on Mesa Poleo near Forest Road (FR) 103 and FR 172 on the Coyote Ranger District.
- The 500-acre Mesa Potrero prescribed burn approximately 7 miles north of the community of Gallina and 14 miles northwest of the Coyote District Office.
- The 3,521-acre Oso 5 prescribed burn west of the community of Llaves and northeast of Lindrith on the Cuba Ranger District.
- The 125-acre Diego prescribed burn north of the community of Gilman and east of the Rancho del Chaparral Girl Scout Camp on the Cuba Ranger District.
- The 1,702-acre North Joaquin prescribed fire west of FR 376, south of FR 534 and north of Joaquin Canyon on the Jemez Ranger District.
- The 600-acre Cat Mesa prescribed burn adjacent to FR 135 about 2.5 miles east/northeast of Jemez Springs on the Jemez Ranger District.
- Up to 1,000 acres within the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed on the Española Ranger District.
- The 1,200-acre Las Dispensas prescribed burn in the Gallinas Watershed on the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District.
Smoke management is a key part of the planning and implementation of prescribed burns. The SFNF manages 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 can be found online at the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) website. Information on the Forest Stewards Guild’s HEPA Filter Loan Program is available here.
Prescribed fire is part of a science-based framework for managing ponderosa pine and dry mixed-conifer forests like the SFNF to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire and allow low-intensity fire to play its natural role in a frequent-fire ecosystem.