Santa Fe Watershed Prescribed Burn Planned for Tomorrow

SANTA FE, NM – April 15, 2019 – For Immediate Release.  Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) plan to take advantage of favorable conditions, including fuel moisture levels, air quality, wind direction and weather forecasts, to conduct the previously announced prescribed burn near Nichols Reservoir in the lower Santa Fe Municipal Watershed tomorrow, April 16.

Up to 500 acres, including 50 acres of piles, will be treated with hand and aerial ignitions.  Crews will begin hand ignitions around 10:00 a.m., followed by aerial ignitions between noon and 1:00 p.m.  Operations should be completed within a day.

The Santa Fe Watershed prescribed burn is specifically designed to improve and protect the 17,384-acre Municipal Watershed, which provides 40% of the water for the City of Santa Fe, by removing dead forest fuels and reducing the risk of high-intensity wildfire.  Prescribed fire is always managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.

Due to the Watershed’s proximity to the city and terrain that tends to direct smoke toward Santa Fe, prescribed burns within its boundaries may impact populated areas.  Tomorrow’s mild temperatures and surface winds out of the west/southwest followed by precipitation overnight and into Wednesday morning are expected to help minimize smoke impacts to the city.

The SFNF works closely with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) to monitor air quality during a planned ignition and limit the severity of smoke impacts.

Smoke will likely be visible from Santa Fe, Tesuque, Glorieta, Pecos Canyon, El Dorado and the I-25 corridor.  Smoke may settle into lower elevations and drainages overnight but should lift by midmorning.  Lingering smoke may be present for up to one week after ignitions are complete.

Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with heart or respiratory problems are encouraged to take precautionary measures.  Information on air quality and protecting your health by using the 5-3-1 visibility method can be found online at NMDOH’s Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) website at  People with health concerns can also call NMDOH at 505-827-0006 for additional information.  For information on the HEPA filter loan program, go to

Fire updates are posted on the New Mexico Fire Information website at, and Twitter @SantafeNF.  For more information, contact the Española Ranger Station at 505-753-7331.


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Photo credit:  File photo of prescribed burn in Santa Fe Municipal Watershed by Santa Fe National Forest.

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