SANTA FE ― Fire managers on the Española Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) plan to implement prescribed pile burns to remove woody debris from the Pacheco Canyon and Hyde Park fuels reduction projects as early as Dec. 5 if conditions, including snow pack, fuel moisture levels, air quality, wind direction and weather forecasts, remain favorable.
Winter is an optimal time to burn slash piles because snow on the ground keeps the fire from spreading to adjacent vegetation. The 150-acre Pacheco Canyon pile burn is off Forest Road 102 east of Tesuque Pueblo, and the 140-acre Hyde Park pile burn is near Black Canyon Campground off NM State Road 475, the road to the Santa Fe ski basin.
Generally, pile burns produce less smoke and burn with less intensity than broadcast burns across a larger landscape. Smoke from the pile burns may be visible from Santa Fe, Tesuque, Nambe, Los Alamos and Pojoaque as well as the I-25 and US 285/84 corridors.
Fire managers are also looking for an opportunity in 2020 to reschedule the previously announced prescribed burn in the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed to treat up to 350 acres north of Nichols Reservoir near Granite Point with hand and aerial ignitions.
The Santa Fe Watershed prescribed burn is specifically designed to improve and protect the 17,384-acre Municipal Watershed, which provides more than 40 percent of the water for the City of Santa Fe, by removing dead forest fuels and reducing the risk of high-intensity wildfire. Prescribed fire is always managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.
The SFNF manages all 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 by using the 5-3-1 visibility method can be found online at the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) website at https://nmtracking.org/fire. People with health concerns can also call NMDOH at 505.827.0006 for additional information. For information on the HEPA filter loan program, go to https://facnm.org/smoke#smokeanchor5.