US Forest Service

Even though New Mexico has now entered its cool, wet season, the Forest Service is continuing its "Wildfire Preparedness is Year-Round" campaign with a new message: "Don't Be Afraid, Take Preventive Action."

"Fire-adapted forests across New Mexico historically experienced low-severity wildfire in a way that protected them from widespread mortality and land-type conversion across large acreages," reads a press release from the Forest Service. "While it is essential that we suppress fires to protect homes and communities, our effectiveness at suppressing all fires over the last 100-plus years has largely removed an important natural disturbance from fire-adapted ecosystems. A healthy forest is a resilient forest that undergoes fire occurrences on a regular basis."

Land managers are implementing a number of prescribed burns throughout the state this fall and winter. These carefully planned, controlled fires help to reduce the risk of severe wildfires during the dry hot season by reducing forest fuels. They also improve the growth of native plants in understory, creating wildlife habitat and protecting water sources.

The Forest Service also advises people to continue to exercise caution when using fire as a heating source at home, especially new fires being built in wood stoves and fireplaces that have been unused for many months. Chimney fires are common this time of year due to the possible build up of debris during the dry season. People should also always take great care when disposing of ashes and hot coals, which can remain hot for four days after a fire has gone out.

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