Silver City, NM— October 13, 2021. With fall comes the start of another season – prescribed fire season. As we begin smelling smoke, the Gila National Forest and the Fire Adapted New Mexico learning network want to remind residents and visitors of the important role that fire plays in our forests. Continuing with our “Wildfire Preparedness is Year-Round” campaign, our message for October and Halloween is “Don’t be Afraid, Take Preventive Action.”
Forests across New Mexico historically experienced regular low-severity wildfire, sometimes as frequently as every few years, depending on the type of plants, terrain, and elevation. While it is essential that we suppress fires to protect homes and communities, our effectiveness at suppressing all fires over the last 100-plus years has largely removed an important natural disturbance from fire-adapted ecosystems. A healthy forest is a resilient forest that undergoes fire occurrences on a regular basis.
To reintroduce low-severity fire to fire-adapted forests, land managers across New Mexico use prescribed fire under carefully planned conditions that align with the milder temperatures of spring and fall weather. Prescribed fire may be preceded by thinning to reduce tree densities and ensure low-severity fire behavior. Thinning in combination with low-severity prescribed fire is effective at reducing forest fuels and protecting forests and communities from the negative effects of high-severity wildfire.
Prescribed fire, including both the burning of slash piles (aka pile burning) or allowing fire to move across the forest floor (aka broadcast burning), achieves a wide range of management objectives. Prescribed burn benefits include reducing wildfire risk, improving the growth of native plants in the understory, creating wildlife habitat and protecting water sources. Prescribed fire season is an important time for land managers and private landowners to make progress on the shared goal of creating communities that are better adapted to wildfire.
If you’re curious about prescribed fires in New Mexico, most Federal and New Mexico wildland fire management agencies post information about upcoming prescribed burns on NM Fire Information and on the NM Fire Information Facebook and Twitter pages. To learn more about prescribed fire:
- Review the Prescribed Burning Act passed by the New Mexico State Legislature in 2021
- Find out more about prescribed fire on private land in New Mexico
- Get involved with the https://nmrxfire.nmsu.edu/New Mexico Prescribed Fire Council
Caring for the land and serving people