Planned Prescribed Fires for Spring 2024

single firefighter walks down path through trees, surrounded by smoke
A fire crew member patrols an understory burn south of Tres Piedras, NM, in June 2023. USDA Forest Service photo by Zach Behrens.

Fire crews may implement prescribed fire projects this spring to increase forest health and reduce the threat of wildfire to communities and natural resources, such as watersheds and habitat. The exact timing of each project, or the decision to postpone to a later season, depends on weather, site conditions and available personnel.

Prescribed Fire Locations

Six projects are currently planned on the Canjilon and Tres Piedras ranger districts. Crews may not be able to treat all units—or acres within a unit—due to a variety of factors, pushing work into the future. New projects or increased acreage may be added throughout the season.

Nearby Location Unit/Project Name Acres Status
Antonito, CO Unit 5NM, Bighorn/Stateline Wildlife Habitat and Timber Stand Improvement Project 192 Planned
Canjilon, N.M. (North Side) Fuertes and La Joya Units, Canjilon Wildland Urban Interface Project 629 Planned
Canjilon, N.M. (East Side) Montoya Unit, Canjilon Wildland Urban Interface Project 899 Tentatively Scheduled
El Rito, N.M. Sotano Unit, El Rito Canyon Restoration Project 2,462 Planned
Tres Piedras N.M. American Creek Unit, Rio Tusas-Lower San Antonio Project 1,009 Planned
Tres Piedras N.M. Esquibel Unit, Rio Tusas-Lower San Antonio Project 2,692  Planned

Timing

Fire managers, in conjunction with meteorologists, will track dozens of parameters before, during and after each project to ensure they are conducted safely and monitored until the fires are called out.

“Successful timeframes for these types of projects are a balancing act, which is why it’s entirely possible some or none of these projects move forward this spring,” said Brent Davidson, Carson National Forest Fire Management Officer. “The fuels can’t be too wet or too dry, the wind can’t be too strong or too light, the humidity can’t be too high or too low.”

See the Get Notified section below to stay in the loop about project work.

Methods and Monitoring

From above, a bright line of flame divides the burnt undergrowth from the fresh
Detail of an understory burn north of El Rito, NM, in November 2023. USDA Forest Service photo by Zach Behrens.

Two types of prescribed fire will be used on this spring’s projects. The Fuertes and La Joya units to the north of Canjilon are jackpot burns, while the rest are understory burns.

Fire crews implement jackpot burns by targeting concentrations of fuels, like clusters of downed branches, throughout an area. In understory burns, crews apply fire broadly throughout an area under the forest canopy. Grasses, leaf litter, downed branches, brush and occasional single trees are burned.

Once ignitions on a project are completed, crews will begin a long-term patrol and monitor plan until the fire is called out.

The Big Picture

This spring’s projects are all within the Rio Chama Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project, which spans 3.8 million acres across Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. A large focus of the project is to restore watersheds, including areas outside national forests. These watersheds not only serve surrounding communities but are major drinking water suppliers for downstream cities, such as Santa Fe and Albuquerque. On the Carson National Forest, the project covers the entirety of the Canjilon, El Rito and Tres Piedras ranger districts.

Get Notified

Fire personnel try to give notice as early as possible, but a positive turn in the forecast and ground conditions may prompt a quick turnaround before ignitions.

Get prescribed fire notices through a variety of means:

Operational updates during prescribed fires are posted to InciWeb. Depending on the location and/or public interest, such updates may extend to other forms of communication.

Contact

For questions, contact Public Affairs Officer Zach Behrens at zachary.behrens@usda.gov or 575-758-6303.



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