SANTA FE – Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest hope to take advantage of a window between weather systems to conduct a previously announced prescribed burn in the lower portion of the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed May 7-22.
Recent moisture followed by predicted dry days at the end of the week and winds forecast out of the southwest may provide conditions favorable to prescribed fire as early as Thursday, May 7. Fire managers are monitoring conditions, including fuel moisture levels, air quality and weather forecasts, to determine whether to proceed with the project to reduce hazardous fuels in the Santa Fe Watershed.
Approximately 844 acres may be treated with hand and aerial ignitions. The Santa Fe Watershed burn area is located approximately 2 miles east of the city of Santa Fe and west of the Agua Sarca drainage.
Prescribed fires are one of the most effective tools available to resource managers for restoring fire-dependent ecosystems. These fires mimic natural fires by reducing forest fuels, recycling nutrients and increasing habitat diversity. Each prescribed burn is designed to meet specific objectives. The Santa Fe Watershed prescribed burn is designed to remove dead forest fuels, provide community protection and promote forest health. Prescribed fires are managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.
Smoke from the Santa Fe Watershed prescribed pile burn will be monitored to ensure that New Mexico Environment Department’s Air Quality Bureau regulations are being met. The current wind forecast indicates that smoke will be pushed to the northeast away from the city of Santa Fe. However, due to the prescribed burn’s proximity to the city, smoke will likely be visible from Santa Fe, Tesuque, Glorieta, Pecos Canyon, El Dorado and I-25. Once ignitions begin, they are expected to last for two to three days. Lingering smoke may be present for up to one week after ignitions are complete.
Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems are encouraged to take precautionary measures. Information on air quality and protecting your health, including the 5-3-1 Visibility Method, can be found online at the New Mexico Environment Department’s website at https://nmtracking.org/fire.
For additional information about these prescribed burns, please contact the Española Ranger Station at 505.753.7331.