SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A bill that would ban prescribed burns in New Mexico during the spring has stalled in committee. State Senator Ron Griggs introduced Senate Bill 21 saying it was needed to reduce the risk of prescribed burns getting out of hand from March 1 through the end of May.

The Senate Conservation Committee heard from several people Tuesday, including those both for and against the bill. Those in favor said it would prevent the potential devastation of another Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire, while those against the bill say prescribed burns are vital to the state’s forest health.

“For example, the Grant Soil and Water District, right now there is 5,000 acres scheduled to be burned by prescribed fire, several hundred acres have been thinned, scattered, and ready to be treated by prescribed fire. It won’t burn after the monsoon season starts. If it’s outlawed to do this in the spring, then it’s going to build up and become a catastrophic fire,” said Debbie Hughes, executive director at the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts.

Ultimately, the bill was tabled on a 4 to 3 vote.