Fire managers from Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands will conduct the Gallinas prescribed fire on the Magdalena Ranger District sometime within the next few weeks if weather and wind conditions are favorable. The predicted forecast calls for hot, dry, and windy conditions‚ those needed to successfully treat piñon-juniper forests. This treatment was planned nine years ago, but the required conditions, as outlined in the burn plan, have not be conducive until now.
The first and foremost objective of the Gallinas Prescribed Fire is to provide firefighter and public safety. Ecologically, it is designed to remove encroaching conifer trees from historic open meadows and canyon bottoms, increase the diversity of ground vegetation, stabilize soils, remove dead debris from the forest floor, and restore the natural fire regime. Aerial ignition will be used to treat a total of 3,400 acres in the project area, located on the west side of the Gallinas Mountains in Socorro County.
Smoke will likely be visible from US Highway 60 and State Highway 169, west and northwest of Magdalena, NM. Smoke impacts may occur on Forest Roads 10, 10D, 10E and 128, particularly in the evening hours when temperatures cool. Smoke will be monitored to assess potential health impacts and the Forest Service will coordinate with NMED and DOH to issue any needed alerts.
When asked about initiating this prescribed fire at a time when much of the state is under fire restrictions, District Fire Management Staff Officer Ken Watkins said, “Conditions in the Gallinas Mountains have not yet warranted the need for fire restrictions, which are otherwise in place forest-wide. The Cibola is comprised of many different landscapes that need to be assessed on an individual basis; each is carefully evaluated before initiating treatments or restricting activities.”
For more information about state-wide fire activity, visit New Mexico Fire Information at nmfireinfo.com or contact Cindy Wolfe at the Magdalena Ranger District at 575-854-2281 or email email@example.com.