Fire officials on the Sacramento Ranger District have started conducting the Lewis Prescribed Fire this week and will continue possibly into April 2019. The project area is 4,800 acres and is located 1-4 miles south of Weed, NM within the Seep, Perk, Bluewater, and Buck Canyons. Exact ignition dates will depend upon weather and fuel moisture conditions. Fire managers will be monitoring the conditions closely to ensure that they fall within the ranges that have been identified in the burn plan. Burning under optimal conditions will result in good ventilation and smoke dispersal, as well as help achieve the desired effects on the landscape.
The purpose of this project is woodland restoration and enhancement of ponderosa pine stands by reducing ground and ladder fuels, which in turn will reduce the severity of wildland fire within the project boundaries in the future. This will help protect valuable resources nearby and adjacent private properties. Additionally, this prescribed fire will be used to eliminate slash generated by wildlife habitat improvement cuts. The cuts will provide small and large openings up to 5 acres in size in heavy, dense stands of pinyon and juniper with buffers of trees left between cuts. The openings will restore browse and forage for wildlife and livestock and improve the health of watersheds.
Smoke from this burn could be visible from Mayhill, Peñasco, Hope, Duncan, Artesia, Ruidoso, Piñon, Timberon, Cloudcroft, and the surrounding areas. Smoke may settle into drainages and lower elevations at night, but is expected to dissipate by late morning. In the event that smoke is encountered on travel ways, motorists are advised to reduce travel speeds and turn lights on. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures. Information on air quality and protecting your health can be found online at the New Mexico DOH website at https://nmtracking.org/fire.
The timing of this project coincides with hunting season, so hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts in this area may see fire, smoke, fire personnel, and equipment. Please use caution when traveling or hunting near the project area.