BLM NM Rio Puerco Field Office to Conduct Prescribed Fires

Beginning Oct. 18, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to implement four prescribed fire projects this fall and winter. The exact timing will largely depend upon weather conditions. Details on each specific project follow:

Mesa Chivato Prescribed Fire – Located within the Ignacio Chavez and Chamisa Wilderness Study Areas, west of Highway 550 and 15 miles southwest of San Luis, N.M., in Sandoval and McKinley counties. This project is in cooperation with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and targets approximately 1,000 acres. Fire managers estimate it will take 2-4 days to complete burning operations although smoke may be visible during and for several days following. The project is part of a multi-year forest restoration initiative to improve ecological health of ponderosa pine forests and open grassy meadows that have become choked with piñon and juniper trees and dense stands of ponderosa pine. 

Perea Nature Area Pile Burn – Located along the Perea Nature Trail, which is within the Rio Salado Riparian Area, approximately one mile south of San Ysidro off Highway 550. Approximately five acres of salt cedar and Russian olive tree piles will be burned. Prescribed fire signs will be posted along Highway 550 on the day of the burn. The smoke will likely be visible from the highway. The goal of this project is to reduce hazardous accumulations of vegetation that could contribute to high intensity fire under the right conditions. It will also improve wildlife habitat in the area.  

El Malpais National Conservation Area (NCA) Prescribed Fires – Two burns are planned in the NCA:

1) Chain of Craters Prescribed Fire – Located south of State Highway 53 and west of County Road 42, approximately 35 miles southwest of Grants, in Cibola County. The project area is approximately 9,000 acres of ponderosa pine, piñon and juniper trees and will be conducted in several phases. To notify the public during the burn, signs will be posted along County Road 42 and at the Continental Divide Trailhead. Smoke may be visible from State Highways 53 and 117. The goal is to reduce the density and hazardous accumulations of vegetation that, under the right conditions, could contribute to high intensity fire. 

2) Cerro Comadre Pile Burn – Located six miles northwest of the Chain of Craters Prescribed Fire, the Cerro Comadre Pile Burn will entail burning 220 acres of piñon and juniper cuttings. The goal of this project is the promotion of ponderosa pine and native grasses in the area as well as to reduce the fire hazards near the neighboring communities.  

Prescribed burning is one of the most effective tools to control and reinvigorate vegetation. By reducing the volume of vegetation under the prescribed conditions, land managers mimic the natural fire cycle, which greatly reduces the dangers and risks associated with unplanned wildfires.

Prior to and during all prescribed fires, fire managers coordinate with the New Mexico Environment Department and follow all air quality regulations. People who are either susceptible to or affected by COVID-19 may have health conditions that also make them vulnerable to smoke exposure. For more information about smoke and protecting your health, please visit Questions about these projects should be directed to the BLM Rio Puerco Field Office at 505-761-8700. You can also follow implementation of these projects on, on Twitter @nmfireinfo or on

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