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The Los Alamos County Parks Division and the Santa Fe National Forest plan to continue maintenance burning in Bayo Canyon on Jan. 22, 23 and 24, 2009.
“The New Mexico Air Quality Bureau has changed its rules for prescribed burning and we are permitted to burn only on days with good ventilation and smoke dispersal,” said Craig Martin, the Los Alamos County open space specialist.
In the past, small burn operations were allowed to proceed when ventilation was fair.
Burning is set to begin on Thursday around 9 a.m., depending on the ventilation conditions. Burning will continue through the day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Lingering smoke may be visible on Sunday as fire crews monitor the piles and consolidate the material to reduce the volume of smoke.
The amount and direction that the smoke moves will be carefully watched. If smoke dispersal is unsatisfactory, the burn will be shut down.
Piles between El Gancho and Range Road near the roundabout are the first priority. About 400 piles are located in Bayo Canyon between Barranca and North Mesas below El Viento, Venado, El Conejo, Kachina, Camino Encantado, and Deer Trail.
Martin explained that in the event of a wind-driven wildfire, heavy fuels such as long-dead fallen trees that have accumulated in the canyon since the last natural fire in the 1880s could contribute to a shower of embers blown into adjacent neighborhoods. Burning the heavy material when the temperature is cold and humidity is high allows the fuel to be removed under safe conditions.
For more information, visit the Parks Division web site at www.losalamosnm.us, or contact County Open Space Specialist Craig Martin at 663-1776.