Cibola National Forest and Grasslands to Conduct Prescribed Fire to Reduce Hazardous Fuels

Mt Taylor, Magdalena, Mountainair, Sandia, Black Kettle and Kiowa Rita Blanca Ranger Districts

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Jan. 10, 2023 – Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands fire crews are preparing this week to strategically implement multiple prescribed fires across the forest and grasslands to reduce hazardous fuels in advance of warmer, drier weather and pending suitable conditions.

Prescribed fires are utilized to remove hazardous fuels, return nutrients to the soil and improve forest health. Fuels specialists write prescribed burn plans that identify – or prescribe – the best conditions under which trees and other plants will burn to get the best results safely. Burn plans consider temperature, humidity, wind, moisture of the vegetation and conditions for dispersal smoke.

With fire there is smoke, but firefighters take measures to reduce smoke impacts as much as possible. 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 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

Our land management strategy is centered on long-term forest health and that strategy includes reducing forest fuels and using prescribed fire on the landscape. A healthy forest is a resilient forest that undergoes fire occurrences on a regular basis. After prescribed fire is completed, if a future wildfire reaches this area, the fire behavior will likely be modified to a less intense, more manageable surface fire due to the absence of accumulated debris and ladder fuels.

Exact ignition dates for each prescribe fire operation will depend upon agency administrator approval and conditions within the ranges outlined in the project burn plan.

Mountainair Ranger District – Chato RX Burn: 219 acres on the Red Canyon Restoration Project. The burn unit is located north of FR 253 along the forest boundary and just west of Manzano Land Grant. Smoke may be visible in the surrounding areas of Mountainair, Punta de Agua, Manzano, the Estancia Valley or west Manzano communities of Rio Communities, Belen or Los Lunas.

Mountainair Ranger District – Capilla Piles RX Burn: 8 acres of pile burning on the Capilla Fuels Reduction and Restoration Project in the Manzano Mountains located approximately 6 miles northwest of the town of Mountainair in the southern half of the Manzano Mountains, in Torrance County New Mexico. Smoke may be visible in the surrounding areas of Mountainair, Punta de Agua, Manzano, or the Estancia Valley.

Sandia Ranger District – Sandia Piles-Sulphur RX Burn: 100 acres of piles within the Sulphur unit under the Sandia Piles Rx plan. The pile burn area is located in the Sandia east mountains, north of I-40, west of NM-14 and south of NM-536. Smoke may be visible from Albuquerque, Tijeras and Edgewood.

Mount Taylor Ranger District – Redondo RX Burn Copperton/Sawyer Blocks: 1,728 acres on the Copperton and 663 acres on the Sawyer units located 3 miles west of Post Office Flats on Forest Road (FR) 480 in the Zuni Mountains. Smoke may be visible in the surrounding area of Rahma, Gallup, Thoreau, Bluewater, Grants and Millan. 

Magdalena Ranger District – Durfee Bolander RX Burn: 1,900 acres on Unit 7 & 8 in the vicinity of Durfee and Bolander Canyon along FSR 476, FSR 220, 661A and 220X. Smoke may be visible from the communities of Magdalena, Alamo and Datil.

Black Kettle National Grassland Ranger District: Broadcast burning of multiple blocks up to 1,500 acres across the district. Smoke may be visible from Roger Mills County, Oklahoma.  

Kiowa Rita Blanca National Grasslands Ranger District: Broadcast burning of multiple blocks up to 1,500 acres across the district. Smoke may be visible from Clayton, New Mexico and Felt, Oklahoma.

Implementation announcements and updates on prescribed fire projects will be posted on InciWeb, New Mexico Fire Information and on the Cibola NF & NGs website, Cibola Facebook and Cibola Twitter sites.

Mt Taylor Ranger District Office: 505-287-8833

Magdalena Ranger District Office: 575-854-2281

Mountainair Ranger District Office: 505-847-2990

Sandia Ranger District Office: 505-281-3304

Black Kettle National Grassland District Office: 580-497-2143

Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands District Office: 575-374-9652

Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands Supervisor’s Office: 505-346-3900

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