BLM Rio Puerco Field Office to implement four prescribed fires

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M, – Beginning Jan. 11, the Bureau of Land Management plans to implement four prescribed fire projects this winter and spring. The exact timing of implementation will largely depend upon weather conditions. Details on each project follow:

Mesa Chivato Prescribed Fire – Located within the Ignacio Chavez and Chamisa Wilderness Study Areas, west of Highway 550 and 15 miles southwest of San Luis, N.M., in Sandoval and McKinley counties. This project is being done in cooperation with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and targets approximately 500 acres. Fire managers estimate it will take 2-4 days to complete burning operations although smoke may be visible during and for several days following. The project is part of a multi-year forest restoration project to improve ecological health of ponderosa pine forests and open grassy meadows that have become choked with piñon and juniper trees and dense stands of ponderosa pine.  

Perea Nature Area Pile Burn - Located along the Perea Nature Trail, which is within the Rio Salado Riparian Area, approximately one mile south of San Ysidro off Hwy 550. Approximately 20 acres of salt cedar and Russian olive tree piles will be burned. Prescribed fire signs will be posted along Hwy 550 during the day of the burn. The smoke will be visible from Hwy 550. The goal of this project is to reduce hazardous accumulations of vegetation that could contribute to high intensity fire under the right conditions. It will also improve wildlife habitat in the area.   

El Malpais National Conservation Area Prescribed Fires – Two burns are planned in the Conservation Area: 
1) Chain of Craters Prescribed Fire – Located south of State Hwy 53 and west of County Road 42, approximately 35 miles southwest of Grants, in Cibola County. The project area is approximately 2,500 acres of ponderosa pine, piñon and juniper and will be conducted in several phases. During the burn, prescribed fire signs will be posted along County Road 42 and at the Continental Divide Trailhead. Smoke may be visible from State Highways 53 and 117. The goal of the burn is to reduce the density and hazardous accumulations of vegetation that under the right conditions could contribute to high intensity fire.  

2) Cerro Comadre Pile Burn - Located 6 miles northwest of the Chain of Craters Project, the Cerro Comadre Pile prescribed burn is still within the El Malpais NCA. The goal of this project is promotion of ponderosa pine and native grasses in the area as well as to create defensible spacing in neighboring communities by removing 240 acres of piñon/juniper piles using prescribed fire.  

Prescribed burning is one of the most effective tools to control vegetation. By reducing the volume of vegetation under the prescribed conditions, land managers mimic the natural fire cycle, which greatly reduces the dangers and risks associated with unplanned wildfires.

Prior to and during all prescribed fires, fire managers coordinate with the New Mexico Environment Department and follow all air quality regulations. People who are either susceptible to or affected by COVID-19 may have health conditions that also make them vulnerable to smoke exposure. For more information about smoke and protecting your health, please visit New Mexico Fire Information Smoke Management.

Questions about these projects should be directed to the BLM Rio Puerco Field Office at 505-761-8700. You can also follow implementation of these projects on, on Twitter @nmfireinfo or on

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in the 11 Western states and Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In fiscal year 2018, the diverse activities authorized on BLM-managed lands generated $105 billion in economic output across the country. This economic activity supported 471,000 jobs and contributed substantial revenue to the U.S. Treasury and state governments, mostly through royalties on minerals.

Release Date


Bureau of Land Management


Rio Puerco Field Office


Jamie Garcia