New Mexico’s Wildfire Causes Prescribed Burn Pause


One way of managing wildfire is the controlled — or prescribed — burn. They’re done routinely by the U.S. Forest Service to get rid of the fuel that — for lack of a better description — fuels a wildfire.

On April 6th a wildfire in New Mexico began as a prescribed burn. The Forest Service planned the 1,200 acre fire. Something went wrong. The prescribed burn merged with the Calf Canyon Fire. The fire has burned close to two months and is now the largest wildfire in the U.S.

At around 40% containment, there are no signs of getting it totally under control. So far the fire has destroyed 300,000 acres and 277 structures. Of the structures burned, 166 of them — so far — are homes.

This has caused the U.S. Forest Service to rethink how it does prescribed burns. It will suspend such burns until a review of burn practices can be completed. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said the study is going to take at least 90 days and will look at protocols, support tools for making decisions and how those burns are done.

”Our primary goal in engaging prescribed fires and wildfires is to ensure the safety of the communities involved,” Moore said. “The communities we serve, and our employees deserve the very best tools and science supporting them as we continue to navigate toward reducing the risk of severe wildfires in the future.”

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham agrees with a pause to study the hows and whys of controlled burns. However, she also notes that well-managed prescribed burns are critical to managing wildfires.

It is critical that federal agencies update and modernize these practices in response to a changing climate, as what used to be considered extreme conditions are now much more common,” she said. “The situation unfolding in New Mexico right now demonstrates without a doubt the grave consequences of neglecting to do so.”

Source link: NBC News —

Source link: NPR —

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