Valles Caldera Trust Plans Prescribed Burn

The Valles Caldera in summer. Courtesy/VCT

VCT News:

The Valles Caldera Trust is planning a prescribed burn project on the Valles Caldera National Preserve that will begin as early as next Wednesday, Nov. 12 and last for one to three days.

The prescribed burn will target up to 1,471 acres of grass in the Valle Grande, adjacent to NM Highway 4 near mile marker 39.2. Some traffic delays may occur during the ignition phases of the burn but road closures are not expected.

If conditions permit, burn operations will occur during midday in order minimize impacts to morning and afternoon commuter traffic on N.M. 4. The regularly scheduled Preserve activities are not expected to be impacted.

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 project will not begin unless all conditions support the burn and associated resources are available. If conditions are not ideal the burn may be delayed until later in the season.

Because of the location and elevation, smoke from the burn will be visible from all directions coming into the Jemez Mountains area. Smoke is expected to have variable effects on neighboring communities including Ponderosa, La Cueva, Sierra Los Pinos, Jemez Pueblo and areas near N.M. 4.

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 https://nmtracking.org/en/environ_exposure/fire-and-smoke/ .

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