SANTA FE ― The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) discovered a lightning-caused ignition Monday night on Conejos Peak on the Jemez Ranger District adjacent to Forest Road 266 and about 4 miles northeast of the Paliza Campground and 5 miles from the community of Ponderosa.
Estimated at 3-5 acres, the Conejos Fire is creeping and slowly backing in primarily ponderosa pine forest.
Given current conditions, including forecasted weather, and the location of the fire, fire managers are considering using the Conejos Fire to bring positive benefits to the landscape, including removing the dead and down fuels that have accumulated on the forest floor.
Historically, low-intensity wildfires burned through southwestern dry conifer forests like the SFNF every seven to 15 years on average as part of a natural cycle that removed leaf litter, eradicated disease and thinned the understory, making room for new growth and improving habitat for wildlife.
Smoke from the Conejos Fire is visible from US Highway 550, San Ysidro and Jemez Pueblo.
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.