Santa Fe Watershed Prescribed Burn Planned the Week of March 19

SANTA FE, NM – March 12, 2018 – For Immediate Release. Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) plan to take advantage of favorable conditions, including fuel moisture levels, air quality, and winds and weather forecasts to initiate another prescribed burn in the Santa Fe Watershed as early as March 19.

On March 8, crews met objectives by treating 755-acres in the Santa Fe Watershed. The public’s patience and understanding during the prescribed burn treatment period is greatly appreciated.

Fire managers will look this time for an opportunity to burn up to 500 acres in the Santa Fe Watershed anytime from March 19 through the end of April. The estimated 500-acre treatment area is about two miles east of the City of Santa Fe on the north side of the Santa Fe River by Nichols Reservoir. Impacts from the hand and aerial ignitions are expected to be minimal due to this being a second entry prescribed burn into this particular area.

Historically, low- to moderate-intensity wildfires burned through southwestern dry conifer forests like the SFNF every seven to 15 years on average as part of a natural cycle that removed leaf litter, eradicated disease and thinned the understory, making room for new growth. Prescribed fires are one of the most effective tools available to resource managers for restoring fire-adapted ecosystems like the SFNF by applying low- to moderate-intensity fire to the landscape under specific conditions within predetermined boundaries.

The Santa Fe Watershed prescribed burn is specifically designed to improve and protect the 17,384-acre Watershed, which provides 40 percent of the water to the City of Santa Fe by removing dead forest fuels and reducing the risk of high-intensity wildfire. Prescribed fires are managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.

Due to the Watershed’s proximity to the city and the terrain that tends to direct smoke toward Santa Fe, prescribed burns within its boundaries may impact populated areas. The SFNF works closely with the New Mexico Environment Department and the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) to monitor air quality during a planned ignition, and limit the severity of smoke impacts.

Smoke will likely be visible from Santa Fe, Tesuque, Glorieta, Pecos Canyon, El Dorado and I-25. Smoke may settle into lower elevations and drainages overnight, but should lift by midmorning. Lingering smoke may be present for up to one week after ignitions are complete.

Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures. Information on air quality and protecting your health can be found online at the NMDOH website at Prescribed fire updates can also be tracked at

For more information on the prescribed burn, call the Española Ranger Station at (505) 753-7331.


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