Prescribed Burning Act Passes New Mexico Senate

Rep. Matthew McQueen


Santa Fe — Sunday, the Prescribed Burning Act, an Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) priority bill, passed the New Mexico Senate with a 37-1 vote.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Matthew McQueen and Gail Armstrong and Senators Peter Wirth and Pat Woods, focuses on managing our forests for a changing climate and aims to prevent future catastrophic fires. Having previously passed the House, the bill now goes to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for signature.

“Passage of this bill highlights the importance of bringing everyone to the table to produce common-sense legislation that all New Mexicans can support,” EMNRD Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst said. “I applaud State Forester Laura McCarthy for her expert coordination in getting this bill passed, our sponsors for their tireless work, and the many community members who voiced support for this bill.” 

“Passage of the Prescribed Burning Act is a big win for New Mexico and will provide an important tool to manage rangelands and forests and respond to a changing climate,” said Representative Matthew McQueen. “It has been a great experience working with the diverse coalition of supporters throughout this process.”

“Healthy and resilient grasslands and watersheds will benefit New Mexicans for generations to come,” Rep. Gail Armstrong said. “By taking action to today we can ensure stronger forests tomorrow.”

“Senate passage of the Prescribed Burning Act on a 37 – 1 vote further highlights the bipartisan support this bill has garnered through the entire process,” Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth said. “Ensuring our state agencies have the tools they need to manage our natural resources in the face of a changing climate is a top priority and I look forward to the governor signing this bill into law.”

“Having another forest management tool at our disposal will only improve our efforts to prepare for fire season,” Sen. Pat Woods said. “I was honored to sponsor this bill that will support responsible management of our resources.”

Prescribed burns are an important tool in forest management, especially as the climate changes and fire season becomes longer and more intense. The Prescribed Burning Act clarifies liability for private landowners who conduct prescribed burns making insurance more available and affordable. This has resulted in increased prescribed burning in other states that have enacted similar legislation.