Gila National Forest: Silver City Ranger District Planning Winter/Spring Vegetation Treatments

Silver City, NM, January 6, 2021–For Immediate Release. The Silver City Ranger District, Gila National Forest is planning four vegetation treatments this winter and spring to reduce hazardous fuels conditions, protect private infrastructure in the wildland urban interface, and improve wildlife habitat.  Smoke production should be light, and impacts kept to the local area.

The four projects include the following areas in the order listed:

  • Hand piles – nine acres of hand piles on the south side of Little Cherry Creek Ranch and Little Cherry Trail #241. Six acres of hand piles surround the last two properties on NM Hwy 15 just before the Ben Lilley Memorial.
  • 5,000-acre Bar 6 Prescribed Fire is in the Burro Mountains, west of County Road 4-24 (Redrock Road) with a northern and western boundary of 4244T Road to the 813 road. The CDT bisects the project area. This may potentially be a two-phased project, with the first phase securing the perimeter (blacklining) and the second phase using aerial resources to fire the interior.  Anticipated window for this project is February – June 2021.
  • 2,000-acre Sawmill Prescribed Fire is a project adjacent to the Bar 6 prescribed fire. This will be on the east side of the Redrock Road. Anticipated window for this project is February – June 2021.

The Bar 6 and Sawmill projects will include road closures, trail closures and area closures to ensure firefighter and public safety. As these projects draw closer to implementation the Gila National Forest will issue detailed press releases.  Due to COVID-19 protocols, we will not be hosting public meetings regarding these projects. 

Fire managers consider forecasted weather, fuel moistures and other conditions to determine optimal windows to conduct controlled burns.

Prescribed fires are one of the most effective tools available to resource managers for restoring fire-adapted ecosystems.  These fires 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.  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 monitored to ensure that the New Mexico Environment Department’s Air Quality Bureau regulations are being met.  Smoke-sensitive individuals and those with respiratory or heart disease should take precautionary measures.  Air quality information and health protection measures are posted online at the New Mexico Department of Health’s website.

For more information regarding these projects contact Marcus Cornwell, Silver City Ranger District Fire Management Officer at marcus.cornwell@usda.gov or 575-388-8248. 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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