Indian Peaks Prescribed Fire scheduled to begin on April 21, 2021 on Black Range Ranger District

Truth or Consequences, NM. April 19, 2021.  The Gila National Forest, Black Range Ranger District is prepared and ready to implement the Indian Peaks Prescribed Fire Project, Units 15 and 17, (see attached map) beginning April 21, conditions permitting. The estimated project size is 10,873 acres on National Forest System lands (735 acres on private and New Mexico State lands).  The district is closely monitoring onsite fuel conditions and forecasted weather. This project includes Forest roads (FR) 4052J, FR 644, FR 4025B, FR 584, FR 14, FR 944 and New Mexico State Highway 163 may be impacted by smoke and fire personnel traffic to and from the project.

Objectives for the Indian Peaks Prescribed Burn include:

  • Introduced and maintaining fire across 50-80% of the landscape within the next decade.
  • Reducing natural and activity fuel accumulations.
  • Introducing and maintaining fire back into a fire dependent ecosystem.

The project boundaries have been prepared by limbing and brushing existing road and placing control lines.

Prescribed fires are one of the most effective tools available to resource managers. Prescribed burns are always managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority. This project will be burning in primarily pinyon/juniper – approximately 70% of the unit is pinyon/juniper and this fuel type takes warm, dry days and some wind in order to carry fire across the landscape. The Gila NF is a fire-dependent landscape and requires periodic fire which helps reduce hazardous fuels, protect human communities from extreme fires, minimize the spread of pests and disease, provide forage for game, recycle nutrients back to the soil, and promote the growth of trees, wildflowers, and other plants.

Duration of smoke production is hard to predict, but high-density smoke should dissipate out within one to two days after active ignitions cease. Smoke will settle in drainages and valley bottoms during the evening and early morning hours. There is the possibility for the communities of Winston, Monticello, Dusty and the Middle Rio Grande Valley to experience smoke impacts. 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:  https://nmtracking.org/fire

Based on rapidly changing conditions, the Gila NF will transition from prescribed fire to the implementation of fire restrictions.   Every year the Gila NF continuously evaluates current and predicted weather, fuels moistures, relative humidity, fire activity levels, and available resources. We look at our neighboring forests in Arizona and New Mexico to see what the trends are for these conditions as well.  We do not automatically anticipate a date for when to restrict campfires but must look at the conditions about when to implement these restrictions. With the current and predicted weather trends, fuels moistures, etc. the Gila National Forest will be implementing fire restrictions on April 27.   

For information on the Gila National Forest, check out our website.

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