Mountainair Ranger District Continues to Implement Thunderbird Prescribed Burn

Mountainair, NM – May 11, 2021 – If conditions remain favorable, fire managers on the Cibola National Forest & National Grasslands (NF & NGs) may continue implementation of the previously announced Thunderbird prescribed burn on the Mountainair Ranger District as early as Wednesday May 12th and continue through Friday, May 14th.

The decision to proceed depends on multiple factors, including resource availability, fuel moisture levels, air quality, ventilation, and forecasted weather and winds. The plan is to broadcast burn approximately 130 acres of the previously thinned Auroch and Ox1 units as well as 131 acres of the Green Acres unit. All three burns are within the Thunderbird Ecosystem Management Project. The Auroch Unit is at the southeast junction of FR422/275. The Ox1 unit runs along FR522, northeast of the 275/422 junction. Green acres is north of FR 275 along the forest boundary and just west of Game Road.

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 Game Road residents, 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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