NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Two prescribed burns were to blame for last year’s Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon fire. Now, a state senator is behind a bill to prevent burns during the state’s windiest times of the year.
It’s the largest, most devastating fire in state history.
The Hermits Peak Calf-Canyon fire devastated northern New Mexico last year, burning more than 341,000 acres and destroying 166 homes in San Miguel, Mora, and Taos counties.
The wildfire actually began weeks sooner when two federal prescribed burns got caught up by high winds and quickly grew out of control.
Now, Senator Ron Griggs wants to restrict when those burns take place.
“First of March through the end of May it’s just trying to help out the guys that do them and to protect New Mexico and New Mexicans from the result of those that might get away from,” said Griggs.
The Alamogordo Republican has pre-filed a bill in the upcoming legislative session that restricts anyone from performing a prescribed burn during the state’s windy season. That includes a federal, state, local or tribal entity.
Senator Griggs said he recognizes that prescribed burns are a key tool to protect the health of New Mexico’s ecosystem, but he wants to make sure they don’t happen at the wrong time.
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He’s been drafting this bill for several months ever since he and other lawmakers held committee meetings about the fire.
While federal and tribal entities are included in the bill, Senator Griggs said he’s hopeful that other senators will support his bill.
“I’d love to have 111 co-sponsors on this bill because there’s no Democratic-Republican to this bill, this is New Mexico, New Mexicans, and the legislature of New Mexico recognizing a challenge that we face and address it,” said Griggs.