Palmer Fire on Pecos Ranger District to be Managed for Resource Benefit

Palmer Fire on Pecos Ranger District to be Managed for Resource Benefit

SANTA FE, NM – Sept. 19, 2017 – For Immediate Release.  Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) plan to manage the lightning-caused Palmer Fire on Rowe Mesa by using low-intensity fire on the ground to achieve multiple resource benefits, including reducing the risk of future high-severity wildfire and improving range and wildlife habitat.

The Palmer Fire was confirmed on Sept. 12 after smoke was reported in the Valle Grande on the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District, an area marked by islands of grassy meadows interspersed among stands of ponderosa pine and piñon-juniper. The 35-acre Palmer Fire is about 5 air miles southeast of Rowe, NM, in an area that has been previously treated with mechanical thinning and prescribed fire to reduce hazardous fuels.  The potential planning area for managing this fire is about 11,500 acres.

Fire crews will take necessary steps to protect nearby private property and infrastructure on two grazing allotments within the Palmer Fire planning area. Several roads in the area are an asset to crews, serving as barriers to slow or stop the fire’s progress.

The area is also a popular spot for permitted members of the public to collect fuelwood. The SFNF will issue a closure order for the planning area; however, there are other locations on Rowe Mesa that will remain open to the public for fuelwood collection and other activities.  Signs will be posted in areas where crews are working and along major corridors likely to be impacted from smoke to ensure the safety of fuelwood permit holders.

The top priority on all wildland fire is firefighter and public safety. The decreased complexity of managing a natural ignition for resource benefit reduces the risk and gives forest managers greater control over fire effects.

Historically, low-intensity wildfires burned through southwestern dry conifer forests like the SFNF every seven to 15 years on average as part of a natural cycle that removed leaf litter, eradicated disease and thinned the understory, making room for new growth. Managing a lightning-caused ignition like the Palmer Fire mimics that natural process.

Smoke from the Palmer Fire may be visible from Pecos, Rowe, Ilfeld, San Juan, San Jose and along the I-25 corridor. Smoke from the Palmer Fire will be monitored to ensure that the New Mexico Environment Department’s Air Quality Bureau regulations are being met.  Smoke-sensitive individuals and those with respiratory or heart disease should take precautionary measures.  Information on air quality and your health is available online at the New Mexico Department of Health’s website at https://nmtracking.org/fire.

For additional information, contact the Pecos Ranger District at 505.757.6121.

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