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Pile-burning in the canyon

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By The Staff

Pile-burning will resume this week, as officials continue efforts to reduce hazardous fuels in forested areas before a La Nia spring.The Los Alamos County Parks Division and Fire Department, along with the Santa Fe National Forest, will burn piles of dead and down trees materials in the canyon south of Kwage Mesa.The piles are located east of the North Mesa Stable Area and below Sioux Street in Tsikimu Village.Given favorable ventilation for smoke, burning will begin Thursday and continue Friday and Saturday.“We only burn piles after the first snowfall, and we’ve got plenty of snow on the north slopes,” said Bill Armstrong of the USDA Forest Service, the burn boss for the operation.Burning will take place under conditions favorable to smoke dissipation, but some smoke will be visible from adjacent areas.The number of piles burned each day will be determined by the amount of smoke dispersion.“Burning piles produces far less smoke than broadcast burning like we did a few weeks ago,” Armstrong said.Last summer, Forest Service crews burned piles on steep slopes in the canyon. Because of the terrain, the slash material could not be removed from the sites. The material was stacked in piles to be burned when increased moisture would prevent fire from spreading along the ground.“We’ve burned 1,200 piles during the last two winter without any problems,” Craig Martin, the county open space specialist said.Forest Service and Fire Department personnel will manage the pile burning. The burning piles will be tended throughout the day. Most will burn out in over several hours, but some may smolder overnight.Crews will monitor the piles for the next week.Pile burn operations will continue through the winter in Pueblo, Acid, Walnut and Bayo Canyons.For more information, visit the Parks Division website at www.losalamosnm.us, or contact Martin at 663-1776.