BLM plans prescribed fire in Cibola County

Beginning Nov. 25 – Dec. 23, the Bureau of Land Management Rio Puerco Field Office, in cooperation with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, plans to conduct the Mertz Ranch prescribed fire on approximately 1,000 acres within the El Malpais National Conservation Area (NCA).  Fire managers estimate it will take approximately 2-4 days to complete the burning operations, although smoke may be visible for longer.  The exact timing of implementation will largely depend upon weather conditions.

The project location is approximately 40 miles southeast of Grants, N.M., in the Cebolla Canyon area east of State Highway 117.  Depending on weather conditions, smoke may be visible during and for several days after the burn is conducted.  The prescribed burn is being conducted to reduce the severity and risk of wildfire.

The Mertz Ranch prescribed fire is part of a multi-year forest restoration project on the Cebolla Canyon portion of the NCA.  The goal is to improve ecological health of ponderosa pine forests and open up grassy meadows that have become choked with piñon and juniper trees and dense stands of ponderosa pine.

Prescribed burning is one of the most effective tools to control vegetation.  By reducing the volume of vegetation under the prescribed conditions, land managers mimic the natural fire cycle, which greatly reduces the dangers and risks associated with unplanned wildfires.

For additional information about this project, please contact BLM Rio Puerco Field Office Prescribed Fire Specialist Pete Rivera at 505-761-8943.  You can also follow implementation of this project on, on Twitter @nmfireinfo or on

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