TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (KRQE) – If conditions allow, the Gila National Forest Black Range Ranger District will implement a prescribed burn on Wednesday, April 21. The Indian Peaks Prescribed Fire Project is estimated to be about 10,873 acres in size on National Forest System lands and 735 acres on private and New Mexico state lands. Gila National Forest reports the district is closely monitoring onsite fuel conditions and weather forecasts.
According to a press release from the Forest Service, the project will include Forest Road 4052J, Forest Road 644, Forest Road 4025B, Forest Road 584, Forest Road 14, and Forest Road 944. New Mexico State Highway 163 may be impacted by smoke and fire personnel traffic.
Forest Service officials say the goal of the prescribed burn is to introduce and maintain fire across 50 to 80% of the landscape within the next decade, reduce natural and active fuel accumulations, and ton introduce and maintain fire back into a fire-dependent ecosystem.
Project boundaries have already been prepared by placing control lines. Officials report that prescribed burns are always managed with firefighter and public safety as the main priority.
While smoke production is difficult to predict, Forest Service officials say it should dissipate within one to two days after active ignitions stop. Smoke will settle in drainages and valley bottoms in the early morning and evening.
The communities of Winston, Monticello, Dusty, and the Middle Rio Grande Valley may experience smoke impacts. A press release states that the Gila National Forest will transition from prescribed fire to the execution of fire restrictions based on changing conditions.
The Gila National Forest states that with the current and predicted weather trends, the Forest will be implementing fire restrictions on April 27. Additional information can be found on the Gila National Forest website.