SFNF Continues Gallinas WUI Prescribed Pile Burn

SANTA FE, NM – Jan. 26, 2022 – Thanks to the recent snow, fire managers on the Pecos/Las Vegas District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) plan to continue implementation of the previously announced Gallinas Canyon wildland-urban interface (WUI) prescribed pile burn as early as Thursday, Jan. 27. The decision to proceed will depend on multiple factors, including snowpack, fuel moisture levels, air quality, ventilation, forecasted weather and wind, and resource availability. 

Crews successfully completed 266 acres of the 374-acre Gallinas Canyon WUI unit earlier this month, reporting full consumption of the piles of slash and woody debris. The Gallinas Canyon treatment area is approximately 17 miles west of Las Vegas. The primary objective is to reduce hazardous fuels and protect communities in the WUI, the transition zone between natural areas and human development. Prescribed burns are always managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.

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. In some areas, smoke may settle into lower elevations overnight due to fluctuating atmospheric temperatures that produce nighttime inversions.

The SFNF manages all prescribed fires in compliance with New Mexico state regulations on air quality and smoke management. Smoke is likely to be visible in the communities of Gallinas, El Porvenir, San Pablo, Mineral Hill, San Geronimo and Gascon. Smoke may impact NM Highway 65, the main access to the Gallinas corridor, and the area around Hermit’s Peak. Smoke may also be visible from Panderies, Las Vegas, and along I-25 north and south of Las Vegas.

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 Pecos District Office at 505-757-6121 or the Las Vegas District Office at 505-425-3534.

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An earlier prescribed pile burn on the Santa Fe National Forest. Photo: USDA Forest Service

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