Throughout the winter season, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will implement three prescribed fires, depending on weather conditions.
The Mesa Chivato Prescribed Fire will be within the Ignacio Chavez and Chamisa Wilderness Study Areas, west of Highway 550 and 15 miles southwest of San Luis, in Sandoval and McKinley counties. The project is part of a multi-year forest restoration initiative to improve the ecological health of ponderosa pine forests and open grassy meadows that have become dominated by piñon and juniper trees and dense stands of ponderosa pine. In cooperation with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, this project targets approximately 1,000 acres of slash and debris created from previous thinning treatments. Fire managers estimate it will take five to seven days to complete burn operations. However, smoke may be visible during and for several days following the burn. BLM will continue to monitor the project post-implementation to ensure the integrity of holding features. BLM has treated more than 11,000 acres on Mesa Chivato using prescribed fire and thinning.
The Trials Pile Burn will be along the Trials Bike Trail, within the Rio Salado Riparian Area, approximately one mile south of San Ysidro off Highway 550. About 55 acres of salt cedar and Russian olive tree piles will be burned. Prescribed fire signs will be posted along Highway 550 on the day of the burn. Smoke will likely be visible from the highway, and BLM will continuously monitor the prescribed burn. This project aims to reduce hazardous accumulations of vegetation that could contribute to high-intensity fire under the right conditions. Additionally, it will also improve wildlife habitat in the area.
The Rendija Pile Burn will be 30 miles southwest of Grants, N.M., on County Road 42. The prescribed burn will entail burning 35 acres of piñon and juniper slash that has been piled, and BLM will monitor the progress of the prescribed burn. The goal of this project is to promote the growth of ponderosa pine and native grasses in the area as well as reduce fire hazards near neighboring communities.
Prescribed burning is one of the most effective tools to control and reinvigorate vegetation. Fire managers have prepared implementation plans for each of the prescribed burns. If conditions move outside the predetermined parameters, ignitions will be conducted a different day when conditions improve. Reducing the volume of vegetation under prescribed conditions enables land managers to mimic the natural fire cycle, thus minimizing the dangers and risks associated with unplanned wildfires.
Before and during all prescribed fires, fire managers coordinate with the New Mexico Environment Department and follow all air quality regulations. People susceptible to or affected by COVID-19 may have health conditions that make them vulnerable to smoke exposure. For more information about risks and protecting your health, please visit https://nmfireinfo.com/smoke-management/.
For questions about these projects, contact the BLM Rio Puerco Field Office at (505) 761-8700. For details about the implementation of these projects, visit NMFireInfo.com; Twitter @nmfireinfo, or facebook.com/nmfireinfo.