Gila National Forest: Reserve Ranger District planning two prescribed burns near Sheep Basin and at Collins Park/Moraga

Reserve, NM, January 6, 2021—For Immediate Release.  The Gila National Forest, Reserve Ranger District is planning two broadcast burns this Winter and/or Spring dependent upon weather and fuel conditions.  Sheep Basin Prescribed Burn is approximately 2,000 acres and Moraga Prescribed Burn is approximately 2,700 acres. The prescribed burns are tentatively scheduled for this winter/spring beginning as early as February as desired weather and fire conditions permit. The project should be completed within a four to five-day period. Both broadcast burns are wildlife enhancement and fuels reduction treatments to help prevent future catastrophic wildfires. 

These projects are located on the Reserve Ranger District within the Gila National Forest. The Collins/Moraga project is approximately 25 miles east of Apache Creek following Forest Road 94 to the junction of County Road B054.  Smoke and firefighter activity may impact FR 94, FR 4047G, and County Road B054. If this occurs road guards will be utilized.  The Sheep Basin project area is approximately 10 miles southeast of Reserve along FR 141, FR 141B, and FR 626.  Smoke will be visible in these areas and may linger at night and early in the morning.

Prescribed fires are one of the most effective tools available to resource managers and mimic natural fires by reducing forest fuels, recycling nutrients and increasing habitat diversity.  Prescribed burns are designed to meet specific objectives, including providing community protection and promoting forest health.  Fire managers consider forecasted weather, fuel moistures and other conditions to determine optimal windows to conduct controlled burns. Prescribed burns are always managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.

By adding the right fire to the landscape at the right place at the right time, controlled burns mitigate the risk of high-intensity wildfire, reduce the spread of insects and disease, improve habitat for wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, and promote the growth of healthy trees, wildflowers and other plants. 

Smoke from the prescribed burn will be visible to the public. The Forest Service will coordinate with New Mexico Environment Department and follow smoke management guidelines.  Air quality information and health protection measures are posted online at the New Mexico Department of Health’s website:  https://nmtracking.org/fire.

For information on the Gila National Forest, check out our website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/gila or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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