SFNF Considering Prescribed Burn in Santa Fe Watershed

SANTA FE, NM – Oct. 18, 2021 – If conditions remain favorable, fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) are considering implementation of the previously announced Santa Fe Watershed prescribed burn on the Española Ranger District as early as tomorrow.

The decision to proceed will depend on multiple factors, including resource availability, fuel moisture levels, air quality, ventilation, and forecasted weather and wind. Prescribed burns are designed to meet specific objectives and are always managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.

Crews will use hand and aerial ignitions to treat up to 350 acres north of Nichols Reservoir in the lower portion of the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed.

The Santa Fe Watershed prescribed burn is specifically designed to improve and protect the 17,384-acre Municipal Watershed, which provides more than 40% of the water for the City of Santa Fe, by removing dead forest fuels and reducing the risk of high-intensity wildfire within the watershed and nearby neighborhoods.

The SFNF manages all prescribed fires in compliance with New Mexico state regulations on air quality and smoke management. Due to the Watershed’s proximity to the city and terrain that tends to direct smoke toward Santa Fe, prescribed burns within its boundaries may impact populated areas. The SFNF works with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) to monitor air quality during a planned ignition and limit the severity of smoke impacts.

Smoke will likely be visible from Santa Fe, Tesuque, Glorieta, Pecos Canyon, El Dorado and I-25. Smoke may settle into lower elevations and drainages overnight but should lift by midmorning. Lingering smoke may be present for up to one week after ignitions are complete. 

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 by using the 5-3-1 visibility method can be found online at the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) website at https://nmtracking.org/fire. People with health concerns can also call NMDOH at 505-827-0006 for additional information. For information on the HEPA filter loan program, go to https://facnm.org/smoke#smokeanchor5.

Fire updates will be posted on the New Mexico Fire Information website and on the Santa Fe National Forest’s Facebook and Twitter pages. For more information, contact the Española Ranger Station at (505) 753-7331.

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