Lincoln National Forest – 7/24/16 – 7 pm Prescribed Fire Update – West Mountain – No ignitions planned for this week

7/24/16 – 7:00 pm – Prescribed Fire Update:  Firefighters successfully  treated an additional 20 acres today, however, ignitions on the West Mountain project will temporarily be postponed.  No further ignitions are planned for this week. The project will be patrolled and monitored over the next few days.

Today, firefighting resources that were assigned to the West Mountain Prescribed Fire project were reassigned to new wildfire incidents in the area.  Based on complexity, the required organization (resources, including number of firefighters) is addressed and identified in the Burn Plan.

If the resources are not available, then the Burn Boss makes the decision to delay or postpone operations.  This is the normal SOP for prescribed fire projects and it attests to another aspect of “success” of the prescribed fire program. This decision reinforces that public and firefighter safety are the top priorities in every type of wildland firefighting mission, including prescribed fire.  

7/24/16 – 1:00 pm – Prescribed Fire Update:  Ignitions are underway on the West Mountain Prescribed fire project, located 5 miles NE of Capitan, NM.  Smoke will be visible while ignitions are underway.

Favorable burning conditions on West Mountain.

Favorable burning conditions on West Mountain.

7/23/16 – 6:00 pm – Prescribed Fire Update:  Firefighters successfully treated 76 acres today with prescribed fire.  The project area is at the top of West Mountain and smoke lifted without creating impacts to areas at lower elevations. Light columns of smoke were visible from Capitan and the surrounding area. Firefighters will return to the project area tomorrow to continue with ignitions, if fuel and weather conditions remain favorable–that determination will be made when they are at the project site in the morning and able to assess CURRENT (day of the burn) conditions.

7/23/16 – 11:15 am – Prescribed Fire Update:  Ignitions are underway on the West Mountain Prescribed Fire Project, located 5 miles NE of Capitan, NM.  During ignitions, smoke may be visible from Ruidoso, Capitan, Lincoln, Roswell, Ruidoso Downs, Glencoe, Hondo and the surrounding areas. Please view news release below.  To view vicinity map, click on link at the bottom of this post.

Regarding smoke, in the event of a prescribed fire or wildfire: If visibility becomes lower because of smoke, please visit the NM Department of Health’s smoke page:

PIO: Loretta Benavidez,  575-430-5546

The next update will be provided this evening (Sunday, 7/24) around 7 pm.


NEWS RELEASE:  Forest Restoration through Prescribed Fire-West Mountain Project on Smokey Bear Ranger District

RUIDOSO, NM, July 21, 2016 – For Immediate Release. Fire personnel on the Lincoln National Forest’s Smokey Bear Ranger District plan to broadcast burn grass and timber litter on top of West Mountain, approximately five miles northeast of Capitan, NM. The Southwest’s ponderosa pine forests’ historical fire intervals are approximately every five to fifteen years. This area last burned in 2004 during the Peppin wildfire. The Peppin fire burned with a degree of intensity that resulted in severe fire effects on portions of East Mountain, but burned at a lower intensity on West Mountain, resulting in more beneficial effects. This success was due in part by proactive burn-out operations by fire personnel to limit the fire’s spread and modify fire behavior.

The West Mountain Forest Restoration Project is a second-entry treatment intended to once again introduce fire to this ecosystem. In May of 2015, 31 acres were successfully treated. Now, with favorable weather and fuel conditions in place, a 76 acre unit is targeted for ignitions between July 23rd and 31st.

“Following ignitions, if the 76 acre unit results in positive fire effects, then fire personnel plan to proceed with prescribed fire operations on several hundred acres of the mountain top with low-to-moderate fire. The steep slopes of juniper trees and grass will require greater fire intensity, which is necessary in this particular fuel type, to achieve desired results as identified in the prescription,” said Dan Ray, Fuels Specialist on the Smokey Bear Ranger District.

The West Mountain Fire Reintroduction Decision was planned, assessed and approved by Forest Service resource specialists and managers in 2010 and the plan included the entire West Mountain area (approximately 10,400 acres). The overall goal of the West Mountain Fire Reintroduction Project is to improve ecosystem health and function through reintroduction of fire and its role as a natural resource management tool.

Exact ignition dates will be dependent upon weather and fuel moisture conditions. Fire managers will be monitoring the conditions closely to ensure that they fall within the ranges that have been identified in the burn plan. Optimal conditions will result in good ventilation and smoke dispersal, as well as help achieve the desired effects needed to accomplish the burn plan objectives.

Smoke from this burn could be visible from Ruidoso, Capitan, Lincoln, Roswell, Ruidoso Downs, Glencoe, Hondo and the surrounding areas. Smoke may settle into drainages and lower elevations at night, but is expected to dissipate by late-morning, as daytime temperatures increase. In the event that smoke is encountered on travel ways, motorists are advised to reduce travel speeds and turn lights on.

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Please click on this link to view a vicinity map of the project area072116_West Mt Rx vicinity map


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