SFNF May Implement Prescribed Pile Burn in Pacheco Canyon This Week

SANTA FE, NM – Jan. 10, 2022 – Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) plan to begin ignitions on the previously announced Pacheco Canyon prescribed pile burn as early as tomorrow, Jan. 11. The 443-acre pile burn is located off Forest Road (FR) 102 about 5.5 miles northeast of the village of Tesuque on the Española Ranger District.

The decision to proceed will depend on multiple factors, including snowpack, fuel moisture levels, air quality, ventilation, forecasted weather and wind, and resource availability. Winter is an optimal time to burn piled slash and woody debris from earlier forest restoration work because snow on the ground keeps the fire from spreading to adjacent vegetation. Generally, pile burns produce less smoke and burn with less intensity than broadcast burns across a larger landscape.

Under New Mexico’s shared stewardship strategy for forest management, the SFNF is partnering with the Pueblo of Tesuque and other cooperators this week to implement a 111-acre pile burn on the Vigil Grant, one of two inholdings owned by the Pueblo of Tesuque. Cooperators expected to participate with the Forest Service and the Pueblo of Tesuque include the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, State of New Mexico Inmate Work Camp and the All-Hands All-Lands Burn Team, a collaboration by The Nature Conservancy, Rio Grande Water Fund and Forest Stewards Guild. Both burns are expected to be completed by Saturday, Jan. 15.

Prescribed burns are designed to meet specific objectives and are always managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority. Smoke from the pile burns may be visible from Santa Fe, Tesuque, Nambe, Los Alamos, and Pojoaque as well as the I-25 and US 285/84 corridors. In some areas, smoke may settle into lower elevations overnight due to fluctuating atmospheric temperatures that produce nighttime inversions.

Cordovas Prescribed Pile Burn. Photo: USDA Forest Service

The SFNF manages all 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 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 and how to create a clean air space in your home, go to https://facnm.org/smoke#smokeanchor5.

Fire updates will be posted on the New Mexico Fire Information website, Inciweb and on the Santa Fe National Forest’s Facebook and Twitter pages. For additional information, contact the Española District Office at 505-753-7331.

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