“While smoke impacts were present during the San Miguel Wildland Fire, variable winds resulted in intermittent, temporary impacts to nearby communities during the most active days of the fire,” said Kemp. “We always prioritize public health and safety when planning and managing wildland fire activities in the Monument,” said Superintendent Jason Lott. “We have a responsibility to balance short-term impacts with long-term benefits,” he added. Slow-moving, low to moderate intensity wildfires like the San Miguel Wildland Fire help reduce the future risk of large, destructive wildfires which can produce heavy smoke and impact communities for weeks. “Fire managers on the San Miguel Wildland Fire are exceeding basic reporting requirements and working closely with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) to strategize ways to ensure smoke management is a priority,” stated Jim Norton, NMED Environmental Protection Division Director. “We intend to work closely together in the future to ensure that management of smoke remains a priority for all types of managed fires, including naturally ignited fires.”
The San Miguel Wildland Fire burned 1,635 acres (1,442 acres on National Park Service, 192 acres on US Forest Service), and resulted in a mosaic of burned and unburned vegetation. Fire activity has been minimal over the past few days and little growth is expected. “Some logs and stumps within the fire’s perimeter will continue to smolder until extinguished naturally by rain,” explained Kemp. Final costs for the fire are not available, but early estimates show the cost of managing the San Miguel Wildland Fire are hundreds of dollars per acre less than a comparable prescribed fire or a full-suppression fire.
In the future, the National Park Service and the National Forest Service will continue to assess naturally occurring fires as they did the San Miguel Fire to determine if they can be managed for resource benefits or if they should be fully suppressed. If a fire poses no threat to life, safety, property or resources, fire managers may allow it to follow its natural course and cleanse the landscape and renew vegetation. Both agencies expect managed fires to be more of a norm within the Bandelier National Monument and the Santa Fe National Forest.
For more information about Wildland Fire in the National Park Service visit, http://www.nps.gov/fire
, or visit, http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/management/index.html
for United States Forest Service- Fire Management.