Prescribed Burn in Santa Fe Watershed is a Go

SANTA FE, NM – April 16, 2019 – In consultation with the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) and the Southwest Coordination Center (SWCC), the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) is proceeding with a prescribed burn in the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed today.

Up to 500 acres, including 50 acres of piles, will be treated with hand and aerial ignitions. Approximately 40 personnel are on the ground. Crews began hand ignitions around 10:00 a.m., which will be followed by aerial ignitions around noon. Operations should be completed within the day. As always, the prescribed burn in the Watershed will be managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.

Weather conditions are optimal with mild temperatures and surface winds from the west/southwest at 15 to 20 miles per hour. The treatment area near the Nichols Reservoir in the Watershed is not under red flag conditions. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for the eastern part of the state from Las Vegas to the Texas border, which does not impact the western side of the Sangre de Cristo range.

A front moving eastward toward New Mexico is expected to bring favorable upper-level flow and transport winds, which will help disperse smoke and move it away from the city, followed by precipitation forecasted to arrive after midnight and last throughout the day tomorrow, further reducing the chance of smoke impacts in Santa Fe. The SFNF is working with NMED and NMDOH to monitor air quality and limit the severity of smoke impacts. Air quality monitors are set up in the Watershed, at the Runnels Building and at the Santa Fe Municipal Airport.

Smoke will likely be visible from Santa Fe, Tesuque, Glorieta, Pecos Canyon, El Dorado and I-25. 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.

The Santa Fe Watershed prescribed burn is a maintenance burn under the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed Plan 2010-2029, a collaboration between the Forest Service, City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe Watershed Association and The Nature Conservancy, to improve and protect the 17,384-acre Municipal Watershed. By removing dead forest fuels, the prescribed burn reduces the risk of high-intensity wildfire in the critically important Watershed, which provides at least 40% of the water for city residents.

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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