The New Mexico State Land Office (NMSLO) is planning a collaborative prescribed fire scheduled for Nov. 11-17, 2022, on approximately 400 acres of state trust land near Mangas Divide (approximately 16 miles southwest of Pie Town, NM in Catron County). The project is being implemented in the fall while there is an opportunity to safely and responsibly meet burn objectives and provide training opportunities to firefighters.
The NMSLO is partnering with a team of qualified and experienced firefighters from The Nature Conservancy, The Ember Alliance, The Forest Stewards Guild, and local fire departments. Public notice has been provided through a variety of channels, including local postings, media, and the county website.
The prescribed fire objectives include:
- Reintroduce the role of low intensity, surface fire that historically shaped and sustained healthy ponderosa pine forest and piñon/juniper woodlands.
- Build on previously completed thinning projects to reduce the density of trees and increase ecosystem resilience to wildfire, insects, and drought.
- Reduce the risk from unplanned, high severity wildfire and associated post-wildfire erosion.
- Revitalize the grasses and forbs while reducing the regeneration of competing juniper species.
Following a detailed review of prescribed practices, NMSLO is taking the following steps to ensure that prescribed fire is implemented safely:
- Weather parameters and fuels conditions will be closely evaluated to ensure they match what is expected and required in the burn plan
- The Burn Boss will take a low tolerance to risk approach and the upper end of the prescription will be avoided.
- A qualified individual will be tracking weather, trends, and fire behavior before and during ignitions to ensure operations are within the burn plan prescription
- Ignitions will be approved on a daily basis by the NMSLO and Burn Boss.
- Resources and personnel will be available longer after the fire is complete to patrol and extinguish any lingering heat within the burn units.
The collaborative team is carefully assessing fuels and weather conditions before proceeding. Smoke may be visible from the communities of Pie Town, Quemado, and Datil. While smoke may settle in the adjacent communities during the night, it is expected to disperse by mid-morning. Motorists are advised to use caution when driving along smoke impacted highways.