Prescribed Burn in Santa Fe Watershed Is Underway

Expected Overnight Inversion Will Cause Smoke to Linger

SANTA FE, NM – Oct. 27, 2021 – Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) are taking advantage of optimal conditions today, including good ventilation and northwesterly winds, to conduct the previously announced Aztec Springs prescribed burn in the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed.

Crews will use hand and aerial ignitions to treat approximately 300 acres north of Nichols Reservoir and Granite Point in the lower section of the Santa Fe Watershed. Ignitions will stop at 3 p.m. this afternoon to allow winds to lift smoke up and away from Santa Fe before sundown when valley drainage winds are likely to push remaining smoke into the city. The Aztec Springs unit sits on a ridge at higher elevation, so smoke and flames are likely to be visible from Santa Fe into the evening hours.

The SFNF is coordinating with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) to monitor air quality and provide information to the public. Due to its terrain and proximity to the city, smoke from prescribed burns within the Santa Fe Watershed temporarily impacts populated areas in and around Santa Fe. Historically, inversions have generally lifted by 9:30 a.m. the following day but poorer ventilation after today may cause smoke to linger into the weekend.

The SFNF manages all prescribed fires in compliance with New Mexico state regulations on air quality and smoke management. Smoke from the Aztec Springs prescribed burn will likely be visible from Santa Fe, Tesuque, Glorieta, Pecos Canyon, El Dorado and I-25.

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 People with health concerns can also call NMDOH at
505-827-0006 for additional information. For information on the HEPA filter loan program and how to create a clean air space in your home, go to

The SFNF has completed first-entry fuels treatments across most of the 7,200-acre lower watershed over the past 12 years. The Aztec Springs unit is in a crucial location that will tie the previous work together, greatly improving the watershed’s resilience to high-severity wildfire, which would threaten the city’s water supply, property in the wildland-urban interface, and many other values. Prescribed burns are always managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.

The Santa Fe Municipal Watershed, which supplies up to 40% of the water for the City of Santa Fe and the surrounding community, is managed under the City of Santa Fe’s Municipal Watershed Plan that provides a framework for long-term watershed management, source-water protection and funding for forest restoration.

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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Test ignitions successful on SFNF prescribed burn in Santa Fe Municipal Watershed. USDA Forest Service photo by Jon Boe.

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