September 22, 2008

Prescribed Burn In Jemez Starts Monday ; Fire Area To Be On Peggy Mesa

By Journal Staff Report

A prescribed burn is scheduled to begin in the Jemez Mountains on Monday.

The burn area is located on Peggy Mesa directly east of Pajarito Peak, approximately 8 miles northwest of Jemez Pueblo and 7 miles southwest of Jemez Springs. The burn, which could run through Oct. 3 as weather permits, is meant to take advantage of good fall weather and ideal burning conditions, according to a Santa Fe National Forest press release.

The broadcast burn will be done by both aerial and hand ignition. Aerial operations may begin on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on weather and availability of resources.

The project is the second fire in the area, meaning the amount of vegetation to be ignited has already been modified from the first in 1993 and therefore should burn with less intensity than areas that have not been treated before, according to the Forest Service.

The burn is a partnership project between the U.S. Forest Service and the New Mexico Game and Fish Department. The emphasis of the burn is on wildlife habitat improvement.

By removing some of the overstory and thick vegetation, understory grasses, forbs and shrubs will f lourish, providing food and cover for many species, including mule deer, elk, deer, turkey and songbirds, according to the Forest Service. Habitat will be enhanced for small mammals, such as mice, voles and rabbits, with an added benefit of providing prey for foxes, owls and hawks and others, the agency said. The burn will also reduce the risk of standreplacing wildfire, ensuring that the area will provide high- quality wildlife habitat for years to come, according to the Forest Service.

The Forest Service said the burn will reduce the risk of catastrophic wildland fire and reduce the risk of fire coming on to the community of Gilman from the National Forest.

Smoke will be monitored and the Forest Service will work with the state Environment Department Air Quality Bureau to assure compliance of smoke regulations. Smoke from prescribed fires is considerably less and of a shorter duration than smoke from wildfires that can burn for weeks and even months at a time, the agency said.

For daily updates regarding ongoing prescribed burns on the Santa Fe National Forest, call: (877) 971-FIRE (3473).

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