Carson National Forest Prepares to Utilize Hondito Fire for Resource Objectives

20170515_200336Taos, NM – May 20, 2017 For Immediate Release.  Fire managers on the Carson National Forest hope to begin operations on the lightning-caused Hondito Fire, located within the Tres Piedras Ranger District, as early as Sunday May 21, 2017 to achieve resource objectives on the landscape.

Lightning struck the Hondito Canyon four miles southwest of Tres Piedras and was discovered on May 15, 2017.  Because the area is located adjacent to the footprint of the previously announced Tio Gordito prescribed burn and has been designated for treatment, fire managers monitored the Hondito Fire as it burned at low intensity while they analyzed its potential to benefit forest health in a fire-adapted ecosystem.

The Hondito Fire received some precipitation overnight.  The strategy today is to assess conditions on the planning area and continue blacklining the perimeter. If conditions are favorable, crews could begin hand and aerial ignition on 7,300 acres of the 14,900 acre planning area as early as Sunday, May 21, 2017.  Based on current and forecasted conditions, which include moisture Tuesday, ignitions are expected to last two days. If conditions change, fire managers will reassess their strategy for the Hondito Fire.

The objectives for the Hondito Fire include mitigating the risk of high-intensity wildfire by reducing forest fuels, enhancing wildlife habitat by reducing dense understories and increasing forbs and grass cover, improving forest and watershed health, and protecting nearby communities.

The Hondito Fire is burning in ponderosa pine litter and dead and down timber.  Strategic and tactical decisions for utilizing this fire to benefit the landscape are based on the Wildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS).

The forest’s first priority is always firefighter and public safety.  Other priorities for the Hondito Fire include protecting and enhancing habitat for the Goshawk, and preserving the multiple archaeological and cultural sites in the area.

Smoke from the Hondito Fire may be visible from Tres Piedras, Taos, Questa, US Highway 64, US Highway 285.  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.

Historically, low-intensity wildfires burned through southwestern forests every two to 10 years as part of a natural cycle that removed leaf litter, eradicated disease and thinned the understory, making room for new growth.  Fire managers are taking advantage of the Hondito Fire to return low-intensity fire to this landscape in a controlled operation that meets forest objectives.

For Fire information, please call the Hondito Wildfire Public Information line from 8am to 8pm at (575)758-6345, or visit the Carson National Forest Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CarsonNF or Twitter @CarsonNF.

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