Gila NF: Reserve RD planning a prescribed burn near Collins Park

Reserve Ranger District planning a prescribed burn near Collins Park

Reserve, NM, February 4, 2019—For Immediate Release.  The Reserve Ranger District is planning on implementing two (2) prescribed fires (La Jolla and Shantie Springs) including approximately 6,000 acres which is located near Collins Park and surrounding area. The prescribed burns are tentatively scheduled for this spring March/April as desired weather and fire conditions permit. The project should be completed within an eight to ten day period. The prescribed burns are a wildlife and fuels reduction treatment project to help prevent future catastrophic wildfires and improve wildlife habitat.

Collins Park is located on the Reserve Ranger District within the Gila National Forest, approximately 25 miles east of Apache Creek following Forest Road 94 to the junction of Forest Road 28. The project area encompasses 6,000 acres of primarily ponderosa pine stand with grass or needle cast understory. Smoke and firefighter activity may impact FR 94, FR 28, and FR 30, and if this occurs road guards will be utilized.  A small portion of the Continental Divide Trail is also within the burn unit and will be impacted, approximately three miles of the CDT trail. Hikers will be re-routed along nearby adjacent roads using personnel on each end and posting signs throughout.   Smoke will be visible in the area, and may linger at night and early in the morning.

Prescribed fires are one of the most effective tools available to resource managers and 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.  Fire managers consider forecasted weather, fuel moistures and other conditions to determine optimal windows to conduct controlled burns. Prescribed burns are always managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.

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.

Smoke from the prescribed burn will be monitored to assess potential health impacts and the Forest Service will coordinate with New Mexico Environment Department and Department of Health to issue any needed alerts. 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:  https://nmtracking.org/fire.

For information on the Gila National Forest, check out our website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/gila or join the conversation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GilaNForest/ or follow us on Twitter @GilaNForest.

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