SILVER CITY, N.M. (KRQE) – A prescribed fire is planned for the Gila National Forest’s Slaughter Mesa area in the Quemado Ranger District. The fire for the 4,650 acres is set to start on May 4 as fuel and weather conditions allow.

A U.S. Forest Service press release states the fire will happen in meadow and ponderosa pine forest habitats. They say a lack of frequent, low-intensity fire regimes has allowed trees to grow in meadows in the area, impacting habitat diversity and resources for mule deer, elk, and pronghorn. The burn will help maintain meadow habitats as well as help restore an uneven-aged forest and reduce ladder fuels which promote stand-replacing wildfire.

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“This prescribed burn is part of the Slaughter Mesa Restoration Project including more than 31,000 acres of the Gila National Forest east and south of Quemado Lake,” said Quemado District Ranger Randall Chavez. “We are collaborating with New Mexico Game and Fish on this project to improve wildlife habitat conditions in the project area. The project restores fire to fire-dependent ecosystems, increasing their resiliency and resistance to fire, insect and disease infestation, and climate change.”

The Slaughter Mesa burn is expected to last a week with around two days of ignitions. People will be able to see smoke from New Mexico Highways 32 and 60, Quemado, and Quemado Lake Estates.