Valles Caldera Prescribed Burn Continues


Jemez Springs – The Valles Caldera Trust Tuesday continued a prescribed burn project on 360 acres south of New Mexico Highway 4 near Mile Marker 30. 

The project began with 70 acres burned Monday and will continue through Wednesday. Smoke from the burn periodically drifts across the highway and reduces visibility.

To ensure the safety of the public, fire managers are using pilot cars to escort vehicles through the burn area when conditions warrant.

Motorists may experience short delays when driving through the burn area.

The burn is the final stage of a project to reduce fire hazard and improve forest health. The area has been thinned and most of the wood by-products were removed or previously burned. 

This pretreatment will allow safe use of low intensity fire to clean up residual slash and remove ponderosa pine seedlings that sprouted since the thinning.

The parameters for implementing a prescribed burn are based upon specific assessments, agency guidelines and safety protocols. 

Managers continuously monitor weather conditions during a burn including wind, temperature, and relative humidity.  Fuel quantity and moisture are also measured.

The pretreatment of the forest substantially reduced the amount of fuel in the project area and lessened the associated production of smoke. 

However, smoke from any prescribed fire can be a nuisance. Besides affecting travel in the area smoke will be visible and is expected to have variable affects on neighboring communities including Ponderosa, La Cueva, Sierra Los Pinos, Jemez Pueblo and areas near N.M. 4.

Communities along U.S. 550 including San Ysidro, Zia Pueblo, Bernalillo, and Rio Rancho may also be affected.

Smoke may be a health concern for children, pregnant women, senior citizens, and those suffering from allergies, asthma, chemical sensitivities, or other heart or lung diseases. 

To reduce exposure to smoke, stay indoors as much as possible with windows, doors, and vents closed.  Avoid or limit physical activities outdoors.

In the evenings, smoke settles into low-lying areas, including drainages and lifts by mid-morning when the sun rises. Residents living in such low-lying areas may be most affected. 

Information on health impacts from smoke can be found by calling the New Mexico Department of Health at 1-888-878-8992, or visit:

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