Valles Caldera National Preserve Plans 2022-2023 Winter Prescribed Burns

Valles Caldera National Preserve. Photo Courtesy NPS


The National Park Service plans to implement prescribed burn projects in Valles Caldera National Preserve between December 2022 and the end of the 2022-23 winter season when conditions allow. The prescribed burns will occur in previously thinned areas where materials have been piled for burning. The burn operations will be completed in phases over several days depending on weather and fuel conditions.

The purpose of these burns is to reduce hazardous fuels and the chance for future high-intensity wildfires. The planned pile burn projects are located within the park on South Mountain (980 acres), San Antonio Mountain (1,400 acres), Cerro San Luis (670 acres), and Cerro Pinon (69 acres).

Because of the location and elevation, smoke from these burns may be visible from all directions coming into the Jemez Mountains, including La Cueva, Sierra Los Pinos, Jemez Springs, Jemez Pueblo, Cañon, Gilman, and Los Alamos. Smoke may linger for a few days after each burn.

A final decision on whether to proceed with a specific prescribed burn will depend on multiple conditions, including the national wildland fire preparedness level and resource availability, fuel moisture levels, air quality, and forecasted weather.

Prescribed fire is part of a science-based framework for managing ponderosa pine and dry mixed-conifer forests in the park to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire and allow low-intensity fire to play its natural role in a frequent-fire ecosystem. Each prescribed burn is designed to meet specific objectives and will be managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.

The National Park Service manages prescribed fires in compliance with New Mexico state regulations on air quality and smoke management. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures. You can also review information on the Forest Stewards Guild’s HEPA Filter Loan Program.

An additional press release will be issued 1-3 days prior to implementation with unit information.

Fire updates will be posted on the Current Conditions page of the park’s website, the park’s Twitter feed and Facebook page, and the New Mexico Fire Information website. Smoke-sensitive individuals may also be added to the preserve’s notification system by emailing the park and calling 575-829-4100, option 3.