SANTA FE ― Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) completed a 545 acre prescribed burn Monday in the Santa Fe Watershed, about three miles east of the City of Santa Fe, to help protect the watershed from high intensity wildfire.
Prescribed burning is not planned in the watershed again until the spring.
The 545 acre prescribed burn was conducted in proximity to Nichols and McClure Reservoirs. Parts of a 450 acre area northeast of Nichols Reservoir received treatment, as did parts of a 500 acre area just south of McClure Reservoir.
Historically, low- to moderate-intensity wildfires burn through southwestern dry conifer forests like the SFNF every seven to 15 years on average as part of a natural cycle that removes leaf litter, eradicates disease and thins understory, which makes room for new growth. Prescribed fire is one of the most effective tools available to restore fire-adapted ecosystems like the SFNF by applying low- to moderate-intensity fire to the landscape under specific conditions within predetermined boundaries.
The 17,384-acre Santa Fe Watershed provides 40 percent of the water to the City of Santa Fe. Specifically designed to improve and protect the watershed, the prescribed burn will remove dead forest fuels and reduce the risk of high-intensity wildfire. Prescribed fires are managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.
Due to the Watershed’s proximity to the city, and the terrain that tends to direct smoke toward Santa Fe, populated areas may be impacted. Smoke will likely be visible from Santa Fe, Tesuque, Glorieta, Pecos Canyon, El Dorado and I-25. Smoke may settle into lower elevations and drainages overnight, but should lift by midmorning. Smoke may linger for up to one week after ignitions are complete.