The previously planned Pacheco Canyon prescribed pile burn on the Española Ranger District may begin as early as next week if forecasted favorable conditions indeed occur. File photo
SANTA FE — Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) hope to take advantage of favorable conditions, including forecasted snow over the weekend, to implement the previously announced Pacheco Canyon prescribed pile burn on the Española Ranger District as early as next week.
The 106-acre pile burn is part of the larger Pacheco Canyon Forest Resiliency Project, a 2,042-acre forest restoration project that was instrumental in keeping the lightning-caused Medio Fire from crossing Forest Road (FR) 102 and threatening significant values at risk, including the Santa Fe ski basin and municipal watershed.
The Pacheco Canyon treatment area south of FR 102 helped firefighters contain the Medio Fire, which started Aug. 17, at approximately 4,000 acres.
Each prescribed burn is designed to meet specific objectives and will be managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority. The Pacheco Canyon pile burn, approximately 6 miles east of Tesuque Pueblo and 3 miles west of Ski Santa Fe, will help reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire by removing woody debris from earlier thinning operations.
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. Fire managers will implement the pile burns only if conditions, including fuel moisture levels, air quality and forecasted weather, are favorable for successful implementation.
The SFNF manages prescribed fires in compliance with New Mexico state regulations on air quality and smoke management. Smoke from the Pacheco Canyon prescribed pile burn may be visible in Santa Fe, Tesuque, Nambe, Los Alamos and Pojoaque as well as the I-25 and US 285/84 corridors.
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.
The 2,042-acre Pacheco Canyon project is part of the Greater Santa Fe Fireshed, a collaborative effort focused on making the forested areas within a 107,000-acre perimeter surrounding Santa Fe more resilient to wildfire, insects and disease, drought and climate change.
For more information on the Pacheco Canyon pile burn, contact the Española Ranger District at 505.753.7331.