Prescribed Burns Planned in Otero County and Dripping Springs Natural Area

Las Cruces, N.M. – Beginning the week of February 8, the Bureau of Land Management Las Cruces District will begin prescribed burn operations in Otero County and at Dripping Springs Natural Area. 

The BLM, in conjunction with Holloman Air Force Base, is planning a 500-2500-acre prescribed burn, 20 miles northeast of Orogrande in Otero County. The specific treatment location is on the Centennial Bombing Range within the McGregor Range. The burn is being conducted to reduce the risk of wildfire spreading to public lands from the Base. Currently, implementation of the prescribed burn is planned for Feb. 9. Smoke from the fire may be visible from Highway 54. In total, 15-20 BLM firefighters and personnel will implement and monitor the fire. 

At Dripping Springs Natural Area, the target burn day is planned for Feb. 11. Smoke will be highly visible to the City of Las Cruces and surrounding communities.  Trail closures on the day of the burn will include the Dripping Springs Trail from the Visitor Center to the historic Van Patten Mountain Camp, and a portion of Crawford Trail, which meets Dripping Springs Trail. All other trails in the Natural Area will remain open for hiking. Call the Visitor Center with questions on hiking trails at 575-522-1219. In total, 15-20 BLM fire personnel will implement and monitor the 50-acre fire treatment. In addition, two BLM fire engines will remain onsite until the burn is extinguished. In the event of a wildfire, the prescribed burn will increase the protection of special features and historic structures in the Natural Area, visitors to the area and firefighters who respond to a fire.

Prescribed burning is one of the most effective tools to control vegetation in areas where wildfires are no longer appropriate. By reducing the volume of vegetation under the specific prescribed conditions, land managers mimic the natural fire cycle, which greatly reduces the dangers and risks associated with wildfires.

Prior to and during all prescribed fires, fire managers coordinate with the New Mexico Environment Department and follow all air quality regulations. People who are either susceptible to or affected by COVID-19 may have health conditions that also make them vulnerable to smoke exposure. For more information about smoke and protecting your health, please visit

For additional information about these planned burns, please contact BLM Fire Management Specialist Ricky Cox at 575-525-4467 or BLM Fire Management Officer Mark Bernal at 575-525-4305. You can also follow implementation at


The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In fiscal year 2018, the diverse activities authorized on BLM-managed lands generated $105 billion in economic output across the country. This economic activity supported 471,000 jobs and contributed substantial revenue to the U.S. Treasury and state governments, mostly through royalties on minerals.   

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