By Julie Anne Overton
SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST
Taking advantage of unseasonably favorable conditions, including fuel moisture levels, air quality and weather forecasts, fire managers on the Jemez Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) have moved forward with previously announced prescribed burns to help reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire in the 2018 fire season.
Crews are expected to have began ignitions on the 91-acre Vallecitos prescribed burn this morning and have them completed before the end of the day, weather permitting. The Vallecitos treatment area is adjacent to the East Fork trail head and NM Highway 4.
Next week, fire managers will be looking at the Joaquin fuelwood unit at the intersection of Forest Roads (FRs) 376 and 488. The window for the 115-acre Joaquin unit, a combination of slash and piles, is Dec. 4 through Dec. 17.
Prescribed fires are one of the most effective tools available to resource managers for restoring fire-adapted ecosystems. These fires mimic natural fires by reducing forest fuels, recycling nutrients and increasing habitat diversity. Each prescribed burn is designed to meet specific objectives. The Vallecitos and Joaquin prescribed fires will remove dead forest fuels, provide community protection and promote forest health. Prescribed fires are managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.
Smoke from the prescribed burns will be monitored to ensure that the New Mexico Environment Department’s Air Quality Bureau regulations are being met. Smoke from the Vallecitos prescribed burn today will likely be visible from NM Highway 4 between La Cueva and the Jemez Pueblo, US Route 550 from San Ysidro to Bernalillo, Albuquerque, and Interstate 25. Smoke from the upcoming Joaquin prescribed burn may be visible from NM Highway 4, US Route 550, the Pueblos of Jemez and Zia, and the communities of San Ysidro and Gilman.
Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems 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 additional information about this prescribed burn, please contact the Jemez Ranger District at 575.829.3535.