New Mexico’s 2014 wildfire season seems to have fizzled out, but the danger is not entirely behind us.
New Mexico State Forestry spokesman Dan Ware said favorable weather combined with a public awareness of fire prevention practices has reduced the number of fires this year. “I don’t want to say that we are out of the woods yet,” he cautioned.
Three national forests in New Mexico have decided to lift some fire restrictions thanks to recent rains.
The Gila National Forest in southern New Mexico says it will be lifting its fire restrictions Tuesday morning. That means forest visitors will be able to have campfires again in undeveloped areas across the forest.
Forest Supervisor Kelly Russell is still urging visitors to ensure their campfires are cold to the touch before leaving their camp or retiring for the night.
New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman, D, was in Santa Fe today, listening to testimony about the impacts of climate change. During a field hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the senator heard what’s happening on the ground in New Mexico.
In his testimony, Governor Walter Dasheno of Santa Clara Pueblo pointed out that climate change contributed to last year’s Las Conchas fire. That fire burned more than 150,000 acres in the Jemez Mountains.
Even after the flames have died down, the impacts of a wildfire persist. Without tree and grass roots to absorb rainfall and hold soil in place, flooding can be a big problem.
In the wake of the Whitewater-Baldy Fire—which burned almost 300,000 acres in southwestern New Mexico—officials in the Gila National Forest have been working to get ahead of the summer rains and next year’s snowmelt.