Valles Caldera National Preserve Plans Fall Prescribed Burns to Reduce Fuels Loads, Improve Forest Resilience

Jemez Springs, NM — The National Park Service (NPS) is planning to initiate prescribed fires in the southwest corner of Valles Caldera National Preserve later this fall to reduce hazardous fuels, improve wildlife habitat, and create healthier, more resilient forest and watershed ecosystems.

The prescribed burns, planned between September 30 to December 31, 2020, include 361 acres in the Southwest Banco Bonito area, directly adjacent to New Mexico State Route 4 near mile marker 30, and 154 acres in Cajete Meadow, about 3 miles northeast of Jemez Falls Campground.

A final decision on whether to proceed with a specific prescribed burn will depend on multiple conditions, including the national wildland fire preparedness level and resource availability, fuel moisture levels, air quality and forecasted weather. The NPS will also take a risk-informed approach to managing prescribed fire during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prescribed fire is part of a science-based framework for managing ponderosa pine and dry mixed-conifer forests in the preserve to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire and allow low-intensity fire to play its natural role in a frequent-fire ecosystem. Each prescribed burn is designed to meet specific objectives and will be managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.

The NPS manages prescribed fires in compliance with New Mexico state regulations on air quality and smoke management. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures. Information on air quality and protecting your health can be found online at the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) website. Information on the Forest Stewards Guild’s HEPA Filter Loan Program is available here.

All fire updates will be posted on the preserve’s website, Twitter @VallesCaldera, Facebook page and New Mexico Fire Information website. Smoke-sensitive individuals may also be added to the preserve’s notification system by contacting vall_info@nps.gov or 575-829-4100, option 3.

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