Mount Taylor Ranger District to Implement Copperton Prescribed fire

Albuquerque, NM – May 3, 2021 – If conditions remain favorable, fire managers on the Cibola National Forest & National Grasslands (NF & NGs) may implement the previously announced Copperton prescribed burn on the Mount Taylor Ranger District as early as Tues, May 4th and continue through Friday May 7th.

The decision to proceed continues to 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 3,858 acres on the Copperton unit located 3 miles west of Post Office Flats on Forest Road (FR) 480 in the Zuni Mountains.

Fire managers consider smoke impacts to communities before making a final decision to implement a prescribed fire. Smoke may be visible in the surrounding area of Rahma, Gallup, Thoreau, Bluewater, Grants and Millan. Area map references included.

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 Copperton prescribed burn, contact the Mount Taylor Ranger District Office at 505.287.8833 or Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands Supervisor’s Office: 505.346.3900

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