With recent snow, SFNF fire managers are implementing previously announced prescribed burns on the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District. Courtesy image
SANTA FE — With recent snow, fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) are planning to take advantage of favorable conditions, including snowpack, fuel moisture levels, air quality, wind direction and weather forecasts, to implement previously announced prescribed burns on the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District.
The Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District hopes to complete the La Cueva and Rowe Mesa prescribed burns to reduce the risk of wildfire by Jan. 31. Each prescribed burn is designed to meet specific objectives and will be managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.
The 40-acre La Cueva pile burn approximately 5 miles west of Pecos on the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District is designed to remove woody debris from a previously thinned area. Winter is an optimal time to burn slash piles because snow on the ground keeps the fire from spreading to adjacent vegetation. Generally, pile burns produce less smoke and burn with less intensity than broadcast burns across a larger landscape.
Crews may also treat 110 acres of scattered slash in the 4,455-acre East Rowe Mesa treatment area east of NM Highway 34 approximately 10 miles south of Pecos. Fuel types on Rowe Mesa are predominantly piñon and juniper with pockets of ponderosa pine and slash from previous thinning. Moisture on Rowe Mesa will help keep fire intensities low while still meeting resource objectives.
The SFNF manages prescribed fires in compliance with New Mexico state regulations on air quality and smoke management. Smoke from the La Cueva pile burn may be visible from La Cueva, Glorieta, Cañada de Los Alamos, La Joya, Apache Canyon, Pecos, Upper Pecos Canyon, Rowe, Las Vegas and Santa Fe as well as along the I-25 corridor and within the Santa Fe Watershed.
Smoke from the Rowe Mesa prescribed burn may impact the communities of Santa Fe, Pecos, Las Vegas, Rowe, Glorieta, La Cueva, North and South San Ysidro, Ilfeld, San Jose, San Juan, Tecolote, Soham, Ribera, Serafina, Bernal and Anton Chico as well as the I-25 corridor, Forest Road 34, County Road 63A and the Pecos National Historical Park.
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 (NMDOH) Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) website. Information on the Forest Stewards Guild’s HEPA Filter Loan Program is available here.