SANTA FE, NM – July 28, 2016 – For Immediate Release. Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest are monitoring the lightning-caused Virgin Fire on the Jemez Ranger District as Forest officials consider managing it to achieve multiple objectives on the landscape.
Located within the footprint of the Southwest Jemez Mountains Forest Restoration project, Virgin Mesa has been designated for treatment as part of that project. When lightning struck the southern end of Virgin Mesa about two miles west of Jemez Springs on July 24, fire managers saw an opportunity to manage the resulting wildfire for resource benefit.
The 1.25-acre Virgin Fire is confined to a four-acre box and is burning ponderosa pine and dead and down timber. The strategy is to monitor the fire over the weekend and make a decision early next week on whether to manage it based on fire behavior after this weekend’s forecasted precipitation.
Resource benefits for the Virgin Fire include reducing ground fuels, improving forest and watershed health, and providing community protection. If forest officials decide to manage the Virgin Fire, the first priority will be firefighter and public safety. Other priorities include protecting habitat for the Mexican spotted owl, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, and preserving the multiple archaeological and cultural sites in the area.
Smoke from the Virgin Fire may be visible from US Route 550, NM Highway 4, the Pueblo of Jemez, Gilman and Jemez Springs. 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.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.