UPDATE: Copperton Prescribed (RX) Fire on the Mt Taylor Ranger District

Yesterday (10/20/21) fire crews burned approximately 120 acres in block 5.

Today they plan to clean up interior unburned islands and secure the perimeter to complete the full 179 acres in block 5. See map attached.

The Copperton prescribed fire is part of the Redondo RX project which is 1,907 acres three miles west of Post Office Flats in the Zuni Mountains.

The Cibola NF & NGs manages all prescribed fires in compliance with New Mexico state regulations on air quality and smoke management. Smoke may be visible in the surrounding areas of Ramah, Gallup, Thoreau, Bluewater, Grants and Millan.

The decision to continue with the prescribed burn depends on multiple factors, including resource availability, fuel moisture levels, air quality and forecast weather. Prescribed burns are designed to meet specific objectives and are always managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.

Fire managers monitor the weather before a prescribed fire is planned and receive a specific weather forecast the day of the burn to see if the conditions are within the parameters set in the prescribed fire plan. If the wind speed (or other conditions) are outside the prescription, the burn will not be implemented.

Prescribed fires are one of the most effective tools available to resource managers for restoring fire-adapted ecosystems and reducing the risk of high-severity wildfire. Fire managers use prescribed fire to improve forest health, remove hazardous fuels, increase firefighter safety, enhance wildlife habitat, and protect communities and watersheds.

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. https://nmtracking.org/

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