Wildfire Preparedness is Year-Round: Don’t Be Fooled, Prepare for Wildfire

TAOS, NM – Apr. 1, 2021 — Dry winter and spring conditions combined with strong winds may bring wildfire season to many parts of New Mexico early this year. To help communities throughout the state, the Carson National Forest is working with local, state, federal, and tribal partners and non-governmental organizations to share an April message with New Mexicans for the 2021 wildfire preparedness campaign: don’t be fooled, prepare for wildfire.

With increasing fire danger that brings the threat to homes and property from flames and embers, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides guidance on preparing a Home Ignition Zone.  After starting with the home, move to the landscaped portion of your property referred to as the “Intermediate Zone.” The Intermediate Zone is approximately five to 30 feet from your home, where the objective is to reduce the intensity of the fire through landscaping or “hardscaping.”

  • Create breaks in vegetation with driveways, walkways/paths, and patios. Using concrete, stone, gravel or other non-combustible materials to create these breaks in vegetation is also known as “hardscaping.”
  • Clear vegetation from under large stationary propane tanks.
  • Keep lawns and native grasses mowed to a height of four inches.
  • Remove vegetation under trees (ladder fuels) so a surface fire cannot reach the tops of the trees (crowns). Prune trees up to six to 10 feet from the ground. For shorter trees, do not exceed pruning one-third of the overall tree height.
  • Space trees to have a minimum of 18 feet between the tops of the trees (crowns) with the distance increasing with the percentage of slope.
  • Tree placement should be planned to ensure the mature canopy is no closer than 10 feet to the edge of a structure.
  • Trees and shrubs in this zone should be limited to small clusters to break up the continuity of the vegetation across the landscape.

Preventing ignitions that can lead to wildfires is just as important as improving your Home Ignition Zone. Chainsaws, mowers and other equipment can overheat or spark. Using fire to clear acequias or burn debris can be risky in the wrong weather conditions. To prevent causing a fire:

  • Ensure your equipment is in good working order.
  • Check the weather prior to beginning work. Visit the National Weather Service website and watch your local news weather reports to find out if there is a Red Flag Warning forecasted that indicates critical fire conditions.
  • Have the proper tools such as a shovel, fire extinguisher and water readily available.
  • Ensure you have a burn permit, when required, and stay until the fire is out.

If you are not prepared or the weather conditions will be windy and dry, consider doing the work when the weather poses less of a fire risk. Choose a time of day such as early in morning when temperatures are lower, humidity is higher, and winds are calmer.

The Carson National Forest is working with the Cibola and Santa Fe National Forests, EMNRD Forestry Division, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) New Mexico to build a 2021 wildfire preparedness calendar and share the message across multiple platforms, including social media, webinars and community events. Bookmark the wildfire preparedness webpage to follow the campaign throughout the year. Stay up to date on Carson National Forest news by checking the Carson National Forest website and following us on Facebook and Twitter.


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