Las Cruces – From June 19 to June 21, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff from the New Mexico Fire District will be conducting prescribed burns on the east side of the San Andres mountain range on San Andres National Wildlife Refuge. Approximately 11,000 acres in the lower foothills on the east side of the refuge are slated to be burned.
Prescribed fire is a cost effective way of reducing the risk of uncontrolled wildfire and enhancing wildlife habitat while re-introducing fire into a fire adapted ecosystem. Using prescribed fire as a management tool for habitat improvement and hazardous fuels reduction is an approved and on-going proactive management strategy employed throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The San Andres prescribed fire will be conducted under an approved burn plan and will be adequately staffed with firefighting resources from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service New Mexico Fire District, Balcones Canyonlands Fire District, Mescalero Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Land Management.
During the prescribed fire, large amounts of smoke may be visible to the cities of Las Cruces, Alamogordo and other surrounding communities. Because of the remote nature of the refuge and conditions of high ventilation that are typical to the area during the summer months, it is highly unlikely that any community or roadway will be impacted by smoke. In the event that the fire escapes the boundary of the burn area, it is also very unlikely that any community would be threatened by fire. However, adequate contingency resources will be available during the burn period as a precautionary measure.
Prescribed burning reduces the total amount of vegetation and stimulates growth of native species that are adapted to naturally occurring fires. Refuge biologists and fire personnel worked together to develop a plan that will benefit wildlife and promote their habitat needs. Prescribed burning treatments, while expensive, may cost as little as one tenth that of a large scale, wildfire suppression effort. All burn plans use national interagency standards developed by qualified and experienced fire management professionals. The plans are extensively reviewed and must be approved by the Refuge Manager prior to ignition.
NOTE: For local fire restrictions and fire information for Federal, Tribal and State lands in Arizona and New Mexico visit www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire or call 1-877-864-6985 (toll free).