Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest cancelled plans to conduct a prescribed burn in the lower portion of the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed next week based on the wind forecast and concerns for firefighter and public safety.
According to the National Weather Service, winds may range from 10 to 40 miles per hour next week, significantly increasing the likelihood of area Red Flag Warnings, which alert firefighting and land management agencies to short-term weather conditions that may result in extreme fire behavior.
Prescribed fire is part of the collaborative plan developed by the Santa Fe National Forest, the City of Santa Fe and other partners to take a proactive approach to protecting the Municipal Watershed by maintaining forest health and mitigating the risk for catastrophic wildfire. To date, the Forest Service has used mechanical thinning and prescribed burns to treat approximately 6,000 acres in the Santa Fe Watershed.
Initially, spring weather models had indicated favorable conditions for a controlled burn in the Watershed, including good ventilation which would reduce the smoke impact on nearby communities. But when the forecast changed to indicate poor ventilation Monday and strong winds throughout the week, fire managers postponed the 844-acre burn.
The Española Ranger District will monitor conditions, including weather forecasts, fuel moisture levels and air quality, to determine the optimal time in the fall to conduct the prescribed burn in the Santa Fe Watershed.
For additional information about the Watershed prescribed burn, contact the Española Ranger Station at 505.753.7331.