SANTA FE – Smoke from the prescribed burn in the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed last week is lingering over the city as higher-than-expected temperatures created an inversion that has slowed its dispersal.
Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest, in consultation with the New Mexico Environment Department and the New Mexico Department of Health, decided Friday morning to stop ignitions on the Watershed prescribed burn based on air quality and smoke impacts to Santa Fe. Fire crews used hand and aerial ignitions on Wednesday and Thursday to burn approximately 1,785 acres of the 2,435-acre planning area. Crews continue to monitor the treatment area to ensure that the perimeter remains secure.
“Protecting the Santa Fe Watershed from catastrophic wildfire is high priority,” Santa Fe National Forest Supervisor Maria Garcia said, citing the fact that the Watershed provides approximately 40 percent of the city’s water supply. “We do everything we can to minimize the impact of prescribed burning, but the Watershed’s proximity to the city means we will see smoke. We appreciate the support from our partners and the public for restoration treatments, including prescribed fire, that will make this important resource more resilient.”
Lingering smoke may be visible from Santa Fe, Tesuque, Glorieta, Pecos Canyon, El Dorado and I-25 for a few more days. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems are encouraged to take precautionary measures. Information on air quality and protecting your health can be found online at the New Mexico Department of Health’s website at https://nmtracking.org/fire.
Prescribed fires are one of the most effective tools available to resource managers for restoring fire-adapted ecosystems. These fires mimic natural fires by reducing forest fuels, recycling nutrients and increasing wildlife habitat diversity. The Santa Fe Watershed prescribed burn was designed to improve and protect the Santa Fe Watershed, a primary water source for the City of Santa Fe, by removing dead forest fuels and reducing the risk of high-intensity wildfire. Prescribed fires are managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.
For additional information about this prescribed burn, please contact the Española Ranger District at 505.753.7331.
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