A prescribed burn for the Gila National Forest in western New Mexico benefits habitat for wildlife. Funded in part by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the project covers 4,100 acres in the Quemado Ranger District.
Firefighters use a five-day window to ignite ponderosa pine, other mixed conifers and grasses.
According to New Mexico fire officials, prescribed fires are one of the most effective tools available to resource managers for restoring fire-adapted ecosystems. The fires mimic natural fire by reducing forest fuels, recycling nutrients and increasing habitat diversity. Prescribed burns are designed to meet specific objectives, including reducing hazardous fuel accumulation, removing slash from thinning and firewood gathering, providing community protection and promoting forest health.
(Photo source: U.S. Forest Service)