SANTA FE – Fire managers on the Coyote Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) could begin ignitions as early as Sept. 18 on the French Mesa to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire.
Conditions, which include fuel moisture levels, air quality and weather forecasts are favorable for ignitions. Up to 1,000 acres of hazardous fuels may be treated per day by hand and air ignitions in the French Mesa fuelwood area. The total prescribed burn area is 3,580 acres.
Forest Roads 8 and 11 will remain open, but travelers are discouraged from traveling the road during times of prescribed burn activity. Also, try to avoid camping in the vicinity due to the high potential for smoke.
The area is located approximately eight miles north of the community of Gallina, and 18 miles northwest of the Coyote Ranger District office. Smoke is expected to be visible from Gallina, Coyote, Youngsville, Regina, Llaves, Lindrith, Ghost Ranch, Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Abiquiu and possibly Canjilon, Chama, Espanola and Counselor. Smoke may settle into lower elevations and in drainage areas during the evenings, but should lift by mid-morning.
Prescribed burns are one of the most effective tools available to resource managers for restoring fire-adapted ecosystems. The burns mimic natural fires by reducing forest fuels, recycling nutrients and increasing habitat diversity. The French Mesa prescribed burn will specifically remove dead forest fuels, provide community protection and promote forest health.
Prescribed burns are managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.
Smoke from the prescribed burn will be monitored to ensure New Mexico Environment Department Air Quality Bureau regulations are met. 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 can be found online at the New Mexico Department of Health’s website at https://nmtracking.org/fire. For information on the HEPA filter loan program, go to https://www.santafefireshed.org/hepa-filter-loan-program/.
For additional information about the French Mesa prescribed burn, contact the Coyote Ranger District at 575.638.5526.