Carson National Forest Prioritizes Prescribed Burn Projects to Reduce Wildfire Risk, Improve Forest Resilience

Taos, NM – September 13, 2021Fire managers on the Carson National Forest are preparing for the potential resumption of prescribed fire operations before the end of the year to reduce hazardous fuels, improve wildlife habitat, and create healthier, more resilient forest and watershed ecosystems.

Although New Mexico and Arizona have received solid monsoonal moisture this year, alleviating drought conditions for the short term, much of the western U.S. continues to experience hotter, drier weather conditions and high fire activity. The national wildfire preparedness level is at 5 (PL5), the highest level of wildland fire activity with several large, complex wildland fires and at least 80% of the country’s firefighting resources committed to wildland fire incidents. New Mexico and Arizona are currently at PL2, experiencing high to extreme fire danger but able to manage fire activity with resources on hand.

A final decision on whether to proceed with a specific prescribed burn on the SFNF will depend on multiple conditions, including the national wildland fire preparedness level and resource availability, fuel moisture levels, air quality and forecasted weather. Prescribed burns are designed to meet specific objectives and are always managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.

Carson National Forest fire managers have prioritized their prescribed fire projects by district. All of the following projects have been cleared under the National Environmental Policy Act.

East Zone – Carson National Forest:

  • La Jara Rx, 1,301-acre broadcast burn near Angel Fire, New Mexico
  • Apache Rx, 501-acre acre broadcast burn near Angel Fire, New Mexico
  • Valle Vidal Hart Canyon Rx, 6,529-acre broadcast burn approximately 19 miles northwest of Cimarron, New Mexico and 16 miles northeast of Ute Park, New Mexico.
  • KSC Jackpot Rx, 120-acre jackpot burn near San Cristobal, New Mexico
  • Taos Ski Valley Piles Rx, 150-acre pile burn near Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

West Zone – Carson National Forest:

  • Canjilon Lakes Piles, 186-acre pile burn at Canjilon Lakes Campground
  • Tio Gordito Piles, 152-acre pile burn near Tres Piedras, New Mexico
  • Willow Piles, 250-acre pile burn near Tres Piedras, New Mexico
  • Ensenada, 1,243-acre broadcast burn near El Rito, New Mexico
  • Tio Gordito 7&8, 3,319-acre broadcast burn near Tres Piedras, New Mexico

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports that this year to date, the U.S. has had 44,461 wildfires that have burned a total of 5,567,600 acres. Today, NIFC reports 81 active large fires with 21,862 personnel assigned. As fire seasons become more severe, the need for and efficacy of fuels treatments becomes clearer.

The Forest Service’s land management strategy is centered on long-term forest health, which 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. The Carson National Forest works with partners, collaborators, and communities to clearly identify objectives and address concerns during the planning process for prescribed fires.

The Forest manages prescribed fires in compliance with New Mexico state regulations on air quality and smoke management. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures. Information on air quality and protecting your health can be found online at the New Mexico Department of Health Environmental Public Health Tracking website. Information on the Forest Stewards Guild’s HEPA Filter Loan Program is available here.

Fire information is posted on the Carson National Forest website, New Mexico Fire Information website and on the Carson National Forest Facebook and Twitter pages.


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