Mountainair Ranger District May Implement the Thunderbird Prescribed Burn Monday

Mountainair, NM – April 11, 2021 – If conditions remain favorable, fire managers on the Cibola National Forest & National Grasslands (NF & NGs) may begin implementation of the previously announced Thunderbird prescribed burn on the Mountainair Ranger District as early as Monday.

The decision to proceed will depend on multiple factors, including resource availability, fuel moisture levels, air quality, ventilation, and forecasted weather and winds. The plan is to broadcast burn approximately 275 acres of the previously thinned Romero and Auroch Units within the Thunderbird Ecosystem Management Project. The Romero Unit is just south of Red Canyon Campground and the Auroch Unit is at the intersection of FR275/422.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, fire managers consider smoke impacts to communities before making a final decision to implement a prescribed fire. Smoke from the Thunderbird Prescribed Burn may impact surrounding communities including Mountainair, Punta de Agua, Manzano, the Estancia Valley or west Manzano communities such as Rio Communities, Belen or Los Lunas.

With fire there is smoke, but compared to wildfires, prescribed fires are shorter in duration and are conducted under weather conditions to minimize the impact of smoke on the public. Fire crews use tactics such as starting early in the day and ending ignitions early in the afternoon to allow for the most ventilation possible throughout the burn and dividing blocks into smaller units to minimize smoke impacts as much as possible. However, smoke may be visible periodically from local communities and the surrounding areas for the duration of the project until the burning vegetation is out. 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.

Our land management strategy is centered on long-term forest health and that strategy includes reducing forest fuels and using prescribed fire on the landscape. A healthy forest is a resilient forest that undergoes fire occurrences on a regular basis. After this prescribed fire is completed, if a future wildfire reaches this area, the fire behavior will likely be modified to a less intense, more manageable surface fire due to the absence of accumulated debris and ladder fuels. 

The Forest Service mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

All fire updates will be posted on the Cibola NF & NGs website, New Mexico Fire Information website and on the Cibola Facebook  & Twitter pages.     

For more information on the Thunderbird prescribed burn, contact the Mountainair Ranger District Office at 505.847.2990 or Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands Supervisor’s Office: 505.346.3900

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