The Valles Caldera National Preserve. Courtesy photo
JEMEZ SPRINGS – A new wildland fire is burning in the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The Big Hat fire, discovered after last week’s thunderstorms, is estimated to be approximately two acres in size.
It is located on Banco Bonito, east of the staging area in the southwestern portion of the preserve. The fire, caused by lightning, is creeping through pine needles and surface fuels, occasionally flaring up in jackpots of dead and downed wood; the entire fire area is in a portion of the preserve’s forest that had been thinned over the last two years, and was scheduled for burning this autumn.
As such, the preserve fire staff are managing this low-intensity natural fire for resource benefit, removing forest-floor fuels and improving wildlife habitat, while conserving the cultural resources in the area.
There are no closures or impacts to recreation due to the fire. It is not threatening any structures and will be monitored by fire managers who may use a full range of actions such as conducting hand or aerial ignitions, to delay, direct, or minimize the spread of fire in one or more areas if necessary.
The current weather forecast calls for a chance of thunderstorms each day of the week, and the fire activity will change day to day. On drier days, an increase in smoke and fire behavior may be noticed. On days with more clouds and moisture there may be little or no smoke or fire growth. However, smoke may be a health concern for children, pregnant women, senior citizens, and those suffering from allergies, asthma, chemical sensitivities, or other heart or lung diseases.
To reduce exposure to smoke, stay indoors with windows, doors, and vents closed. Avoid or limit physical activities outdoors. Information on health impacts from smoke can be found by calling the New Mexico Department of Health at 1.888.878.8992, or visiting: https://nmtracking.org/fire.
About Valles Caldera National Preserve
About 1.25 million years ago, a spectacular volcanic eruption created the approximately 13-mile wide circular depression now known as the Valles Caldera. The preserve is known for its huge mountain meadows, abundant wildlife, and meandering streams. The area also preserves the homeland of ancestral native peoples and embraces a rich ranching history. Visit us at www.nps.gov/vall.
About the National Park Service
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 410 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice, Twitter www.twitter.com/natlparkservice, and YouTube www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice.