| Carson National Forest to Resume Prescribed Fire OperationsNM Fire Info

Fire crews from the Carson National Forest are preparing to resume prescribed fire operations this winter to reduce hazardous fuels ahead of warmer, drier weather. The Willow Piles prescribed fire, which would only advance pending suitable conditions, is the first of its kind for the Carson National Forest after the USDA Forest Service’s National Prescribed Fire Review was released in September 2022.

“We are proceeding carefully with our prescribed fire program,” said James Duran, Supervisor of the Carson National Forest. “I want to make sure staff are aware of the new guidelines and keep a space for conversations in the community as we plan for more prescribed fire operations around the woods.”

An open house for the public to come and discuss the Willow Piles prescribed fire and future projects in the Tres Piedras area will be held between 5:30 pm and 7:00 pm on February 1 at the Tres Piedras Ranger Station, 22280 Hwy. 64, Tres Piedras, NM 87577.

Prescribed burns are used to remove hazardous fuels, return nutrients to the soil, and improve forest health. Fuel specialists write prescribed fire plans that identify, or prescribe, the best conditions under which vegetation and forest debris will burn for the best results safely. Burn plans consider temperature, humidity, wind, vegetation moisture, and conditions for smoke dispersal.

The Forest Service’s national fire management strategy focuses on the long-term health of forests, and that strategy includes the reduction of forest fuels and the use of prescribed burns in the landscape. To maintain resilience, fire-adapted forests in the Southwest region must be regularly disturbed by fire. After the prescribed fire is complete, if a future wildfire reaches this area, fire behavior will likely be modified to a less intense and more manageable surface fire due to the absence of accumulated debris and ladder fuels.

Ignitions at the Willow Pile Prescribed Fire project could begin as early as February 7. The exact ignition date will depend on fuel and weather conditions being within prescription, as described in the project’s flaring plan. Implementation announcements and updates will be posted on InciWeb, New Mexico Fire Information, and on the Carson National Forest website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.

The slash piles created from 500 acres of thinning can be treated in an entire area south of Highway 64 between Tres Piedras, NM and Hopewell Lake. 53 inches of snow have fallen in the area so far this season, according to the latest data from the National Water and Climate Center. 95 acres completed in winter 2022. More acres will be tackled in future years as mechanical thinning is completed.

The area has been the focus of a commercial timber sale and forest reduction to reduce stand densities, improve wildlife habitat, and facilitate the reintroduction of fire into the landscape. It is just one of many projects within the Chama River Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project, spanning 3.8 million acres in New Mexico and Colorado to improve and maintain water quality and watershed function and restore flow regimes. natural fires using prescribed fires, among other objectives.