Fire Stories

Fire stories from the national parks highlight events, incidents, and the like, associated with fire and fuels management, as well as fire education, technology, partnerships, and more. Stories highlight work related to Department of the Interior initiatives as well as local and regional initiatives.

NPS and U.S. Forest Service crews monitor fire activity near an archeological site in the short grass prairie environment of Agua Fria Meadows in El Malpais National Monument

Park Completes Agua Fria Meadow Prescribed Fire

El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico
National Fire Plan, Fuels Reduction*

Crews from four NPS park units collaborated with a U.S. Forest Service Mount Taylor Ranger District engine crew to burn a total of 60 acres in support of fuels reduction goals established in the National Fire Plan. Fire program staffs from El Malpais, El Morro, Bandelier and Salinas Pueblo Missions were involved in the project. The Agua Fria Meadow is a short grass prairie remnant in the monument that had once been grazed and where natural fire activity was suppressed, disturbing the balance of shrubs and native grasses. The fire was planned to reduce existing fuel loads, establish and maintain native vegetative structures in the Agua Fria Meadow and to create a defensible fuel break between NPS land, private property, and U.S. Forest Service land adjacent to the burn unit.

Operations began on November 4, 2009 with test ignitions to evaluate weather conditions. After verification of favorable fire effects, crews began ignition on the project area and completed the burn on the same day. Subsequent mop-up operations were conducted on November 5th and 6th to ensure control of any remaining fire activity. During the burn, flaggers and pilot cars provided traffic control to maintain safety on NM State Highway 53.

Fire Management Specialist Dave Dukart provided evaluation of the burn after completion and states that based on preliminary review, the goal of a 50% mosaic burn was achieved. This is the first time that fire has been used to manage the unit since American Indians once burned the area. The fire effects crew from Bandelier will provide further review and evaluation of the burn site during the rest of FY 2010.

Contact: Dave Dukart, Fire and Fuels Management Specialist
Phone: (505) 285-4641, ext. 14

*This story supports Department of the Interior initiatives.