Gila National Forest – Area 74 Prescribed Burn to begin Monday, May 7 on Black Range Ranger District

Truth or Consequences, NM, May 3, 2018—For Immediate Release. The Area 74 Prescribed Burn, an estimated 9,000 acres in the Black Range, is scheduled to begin Monday, May 7. The district Fire Management Officer, Dennis Fahl states that “the weather and fuel monitoring conditions have reached the optimal window for this activity.” Fahl anticipates the prescribed burn to take approximately five to seven days.

The project boundary has been prepared by limbing, brush, and placing control lines. Meteorological conditions have been verified and the many levels of approval have been secured. Area 74 is a high complexity prescribed burn because of steep, rugged terrain, a possible need for air craft, smoke receptors, and the values at risk, which include Mexican spotted owl habitat, archaeological resources and private land.

Prescribed fires are one of the most effective tools available to resource managers for restoring fire on the land. These fires mimic natural fires by reducing forest fuels, recycling nutrients, and increasing habitat diversity.  Prescribed burns are designed to meet specific objectives, including providing community protection and promoting forest health.  Prescribed burns are always managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.

The Black Range favors implementing in the spring because it allows the best opportunity to meet the objectives. Historically, fires burned more in the spring. By adding the right fire to the landscape at the right place at the right time, controlled burns mitigate the risk of high-intensity wildfire, reduce the spread of insects and disease, improve habitat for wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, and promote the growth of healthy trees, wildflowers and other plants.

Duration of smoke production is hard to predict, but high density smoke should dissipate out within two to three days after active ignitions cease. Smoke will settle in drainages and valley bottoms during the evening and early morning hours. Smoke monitors have been placed at Poverty Creek and Winston. Smoke from the prescribed burn 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.  Air quality information and health protection measures are posted online at the New Mexico Department of Health’s website:

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