Fire Crews Complete Operations on Deer Creek Fire

Fire Crews Complete Operations on Deer Creek Fire

SANTA FE, NM – Sept. 26, 2017 – For Immediate Release. Crews on the Santa Fe National Forest have completed fire operations on the 1,022-acre Deer Creek Fire on the Jemez Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF).  The lightning-caused wildfire on Peggy Mesa gave fire managers the opportunity to capitalize on a natural ignition to provide long-term benefits to the fire-adapted ecosystem.

Objectives for the fire included:

  • mitigating the risk of high-intensity destructive wildfires by reducing excess fuels, including fuelwood slash, bug kill and heavy dead-and-down timber, and reducing tree density
  • providing point protection for historical and cultural sites
  • improving forest health, wildlife habitat and range conditions

The burned areas will continue to be assessed and monitored over the next few weeks, and the public will be allowed to enter the area as soon as it is determined to be safe.

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.

While objectives were successfully met, it may take time to see the full benefits of managing the Deer Creek Fire, which include improved soil nutrients, regenerated native grasses and plants, and improved habitat for species that nest in tree cavities.

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 Deer Creek Fire mimics that natural process.

Smoke impacts from the Deer Creek Fire were minimal with highest visibility in the Albuquerque area during aerial ignitions yesterday. Prevailing wind and weather conditions helped disperse the smoke by morning.

For additional information, contact the Jemez Ranger District at 575.829.3535.

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