Returning Fire to Forest Restores Ecosystem Health

Grants, NM; August 24, 2019 – For Immediate Release.  The Triple Nickle Fire, located in the San Mateo Mountains on the Mt. Taylor Ranger District, is a lightning caused fire that is being managed to meet multiple resource objectives. The fire has grown to an estimated 2,848 acres with approximately 100 personnel assigned.

In order to reduce firefighter exposure, fire managers are utilizing a values-driven strategy which incorporates a mix of tactics that will result in a high probability of success and acceptable risk in relationship to the values being protected while meeting land management objectives.

The historic suppression of fire has resulted in a lack of periodic, natural fire in our forests. The absence of these low intensity fires has increased the risk of large fire events and has negatively impacted the health of our forests. Along with natural growth, firefighters are continuing to assist the Triple Nickle Fire’s progression with a combination of hand and aerial ignitions to apply low- to moderate-intensity fire primarily in a ponderosa pine forest. This allows fire managers to control the effects of the fire, its location, and intensity. This effort aims to accomplish ecosystem restoration objectives through the reduction of hazardous fuels for the purpose of achieving long-term forest health, and resiliency to high-severity stand-replacing wildfire.

Monsoon season is generally associated with increased vegetative growth and fuel moisture. Higher fuel moistures have the potential to increase smoke output. Smoke will likely continue to be visible from Highway 550 and Interstate 40, east and northeast of Grants. Smoke impacts may occur on Forest Roads #555, #239, and #51, particularly in the evening hours when temperatures cool. Smoke will be monitored to assess potential health impacts, and the Forest Service will coordinate with the New Mexico Environment Department and Department of Health to issue any needed alerts. Additional information can be found at http://nmtracking.org/fire.

No forest closures have been issued at this time. An alternate route for the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) has been identified for the portion crossing the burn area. Visitors should utilize this re-route for safety purposes and to avoid interference with fire operations. The re-route starts where the CDT intersects with Forest Road (FR) 451. It follows FR 451 west for a mile to FR 239. It follows FR 239 north for approximately 7 miles and ties back in with the CDT a half mile north of Antelope Tank.

For more information about the Triple Nickle Fire, please contact the Mt. Taylor Ranger District during regular business hours at 505-287-8833. On weekends, please call 505-331-0553. You may also visit the New Mexico Fire Information website at https://nmfireinfo.com, Inciweb at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6531/, Twitter at @Cibola_NF, and Facebook at www.facebook.com/cibolanf.

Triple Nickle Fire Statistics

Start Date: August 4, 2019

Size: 2,848 acres

Location: Near the junction of Forest Service Road 239 and 555

Cause: Lightning

Expected Size: 5,000 – 10,000 acres, depending on weather

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