BLM plans prescribed fires in Otero County to reduce hazardous fuels

New Mexico
Las Cruces DO
Media Contact

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Las Cruces District is preparing to strategically implement multiple prescribed fire projects to reduce hazardous fuels over the course of the next few months across the grasslands in and around Otero County, pending suitable conditions.

BLM firefighters and personnel will conduct and monitor the projects. These fuels projects are being conducted to reduce the risk of wildfire spreading on public lands. The first prescribed burn will be the Oliver Tank Piles, six miles south of Alamogordo. The other two prescribed burns will be in conjunction with Holloman Air Force Base in the Centennial Bombing Range and Red Rio Range areas.

Prescribed fires are utilized to remove hazardous fuels, return nutrients to the soil, and improve land health. Fuels specialists write prescribed burn plans that identify – or prescribe – the best conditions under which fuels will burn to get the best results safely. Burn plans consider temperature, humidity, wind, moisture of the vegetation and conditions for dispersal of smoke.

Prescribed burning is one of the most effective tools to control vegetation in areas where wildfires are no longer appropriate. By reducing the volume of vegetation under the specific prescribed conditions, land managers mimic the natural fire cycle, which greatly reduces the dangers and risks associated with unplanned wildfires.

During the burn period, fire management crews will monitor daily weather to decide which date the burns will take place. Burning would proceed only when weather conditions are favorable and coincide with the criteria in the burn plan.   

Smoke from the Oliver Tank Piles burn may be visible from Highway 70, White Sands National Park, and the town of Alamogordo. Smoke from the Centennial and Red Rio prescribed burns may be visible from Highway 54.

Coordination has and will continue with the Department of Defense Range Control Safety Officer and Safety Officer Environmental Liaison, interagency partners, New Mexico Department of Environmental Quality, and county officials. Prior to and during all prescribed fires, fire managers coordinate with the New Mexico Environment Department and follow air quality regulations. Smoke sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems are encouraged to check out the following site:

For additional information about the prescribed burn, please contact BLM Las Cruces District Prescribed Fire and Fuels Technician Jon Selby at (575) 525-4325 or BLM Las Cruces District Fire Management Officer Mark Bernal at (575) 525-4305.

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