Pile burns resume in Cuba Ranger District

Pile burns resume in Cuba Ranger District

Burns in our national forests often raise anxiety among for many in New Mexico but here is what things are looking like as pile burns are resuming in one part of our state.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With devastating wildfires still on the minds of many, there is anxiety that comes with seeing smoke from one of our national forests.

When you see that this winter, it is likely a prescribed burn. They’re continuing throughout the season.

How are they going, though?

“It felt really good for myself as a leader but for my fire crew to get out there and do the jobs that they’re trained to do. And know that they’re trusted,” Patrick Petracca said.

Petracca works in the Cuba Ranger District, where pile burns are active in the Santa Fe National Forest.

He says the community and Forest Service have a mutual trust in each other – and that’s been crucial.

“They trust the Forest Service. Most of my fire staff either grew up here and still live here. And so, this isn’t, you know, they’re their friends and relatives and their grazers of cattle on the national forest. I mean, it’s just an ingrained community with the Forest Service mission here,” Petracca said.

Right now, several pile burns are going on in the area.

“Monday, we started lighting piles. Oh, we probably covered about 150 acres between Monday and yesterday’s ignitions,” he said.

In each section of acreage, several pile burns are going at once. All of them have brush that could be hazardous if not cleared, he said.

“These particular piles, like I said, we’re around campgrounds, while campgrounds are an important value because that’s part of our recreation program. And part of the way people enjoy the national forest,” he said.

The recent snow has impacted efforts right now but hopefully, they can continue work soon, Petracca said.

“We didn’t burn all the piles because the snow is so heavy. If we get a window in the next couple of weeks, we’ll go after that,” he said.