Prescribed burn to start today near Tres Piedras

Low intensity wildfires like the Hondito Fire southwest of Tres Piedras shown here help the forest's ecology. Agencies have spent three years planning a burn 7 miles from Tres Piedras that is scheduled to start Tuesday (Oct. 8) if conditions are right. File photo

If you are driving across the Taos Valley today (Oct. 8) or having in lunch in Taos and spot smoke to the west, it is likely a prescribed burn that's been years in the planning.

The Forest Stewards Guild along with the New Mexico State Land Office and

the Taos Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management have worked together on a prescribed burn since 2016 for the Cerro del Aire landscape, located 7 miles from Tres Piedras, New Mexico.

Smoke from the burn may settle overnight in the surrounding areas including Tres Piedras, Carson, Pilar, Taos, Lama, and Questa but should disperse the following morning, according to fire officials.

The project is designed to protect soil, improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk to nearby communities, according to a statement from Forest Stewards Guild.

The area is a "checker-board" of land ownership crossing private and public lands. Such an area makes forest restoration, prescribed burns and wildfire management "challenging", according to officials. Agencies are trying to coordinate their forest projects in Northern New Mexico to increase the effectiveness..

"The forests in the Cerro Del Aire landscape are adapted to fire and need low-intensity burns to remain healthy and reduce the risk of a catastrophic wildfire that could threaten nearby communities," according to a statement from the groups involved in Tuesday's planned burn.

The burn team will be led by the BLM and with trained wildland firefighters from the federal agency, the State Land Office and the Forest Stewards Guild participating.

In addition, the Forest Stewards Fire and Fuels Youth Crew will aid in the operations as part of a hands-on traing program that prepares participants for careers in natural resource management. The youth are qualified to National Wildfire Coordinating Group wildland firefighting standards.

Smoke will be closely monitored during the burn in compliance with the NM Environment Department’s Air Quality Bureau standards.

Smoke-sensitive individuals can borrow a HEPA filter for use in their homes for the duration of the burn from the Forest Stewards Guild at no cost. Information on smoke, human health, and the HEPA Filter Loan Program can be accessed here,

Learn more about Fire Adapted Communities New Mexico at www.facnm.org.

For more information call/text 505-470-0185.

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