Land Use

Forest Service finds New Mexico wildfire caused by controlled burns

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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Forest Service fire investigators on Friday placed the blame for the Calf Canyon fire — one of two wildfires that combined to become New Mexico’s largest blaze — on a planned burn set over the winter that continued to smolder for months.

After decades of embracing a policy of putting out fires as quickly as possible, federal and some state officials have come around to the idea of prescribed burns in recent years. The basic concept, backed by science and Indigenous groups’ long history of using intentional fire, is that modest controlled burns can clear flammable vegetation and preempt the kind of destructive megafires that have devastated the West.

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