Focus Shifts on Fire in Gallinas Watershed

SANTA FE, NM – January 19, 2018 – For Immediate Release.  Unseasonably dry conditions shift the focus for the Gallinas Watershed Prescribed Fire in an area located about 20 miles northwest of Las Vegas, New Mexico in the Santa Fe National Forest.

“We’re simply not seeing the moisture we would normally see this time of year,” said James Melonas, Santa Fe National Forest Supervisor.  “Weather conditions and the lack of precipitation made one specific area particularly dry. Given our unusually arid winter and projected weather forecasts, fire in that area could burn too hot to benefit the watershed.  As a proactive measure, we brought on additional fire resources to keep the fire from moving further into that area.” 

The project is a multi-year effort designed to improve and protect the Gallinas Watershed, a primary water source for the City of Las Vegas, by reducing the risk of severe wildfire.  Due to favorable conditions from mid-October to mid-December crews accomplished approximately 900 acres.  In early December, crews stopped igniting additional acres and continued to monitor areas where fire has been burning actively. 

Smoke has since been visible sporadically from local communities and I-25.         

“Fire effects remain low intensity, beneficial, and within the planned area,” said Melonas.  “We’ve been able to complete about 2,500 acres over the past several years as weather allowed.  Long term, we hope to accomplish an additional 2,000 acres with a continued focus on hazardous fuels reduction and wildlife habitat improvement.”

Crews will continue to monitor treated units throughout the rest of the Gallinas project area.

Smoke is monitored to ensure New Mexico Environment Department’s Air Quality Bureau regulations are met.  Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with heart or respiratory issues are encouraged to exercise precautions.  Information on air quality and health safety measures are posted on the New Mexico Environment Department’s website at

Additional information can be obtained by calling the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District offices at 505.425.3534 or 505.757.6121.



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