May is also National Wildfire Awareness Month
LAS CRUCES – With much of the state already experiencing wildfires, New Mexicans – including farmers and ranchers – are encouraged to be prepared and learn about reducing wildfire risks. May 7 is Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, a national campaign that encourages people and organizations everywhere to come together on a single day to take action to raise awareness and reduce wildfire risks. May is also National Wildfire Awareness Month.
New Mexico has 25,044 farms and ranches, according to the most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture. As of 2020, farms operate on over 40 million acres of land in the state. It is vital that farmers and ranchers be prepared for wildfires.
“Unfortunately, wildfire season started early this year, and this is no time to let our guard down,” said New Mexico Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte. “There has already been so much loss, but we need to remain vigilant and do our part to mitigate fire-related disasters.”
The New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences has recorded webinars and other resources available on its website to help people learn how to be prepared. These resources include the following:
- Wildfire evacuation checklist.
- Emergency notification systems listed by New Mexico counties.
- Guide to staying safe during wildfire.
- “Wildfire! You have 5 minutes to evacuate” webinar.
- “Proactive steps for wildfire evacuation” webinar.
- “Wildfire – Proactive steps to safeguard your home, yard and neighborhood” webinar.
- “Wildfire – Proactive steps to safeguard the farm and ranch” webinar.
“Wildfire evacuations are stressful,” said Doug Cram, NMSU Extension Forest and Fire Specialist. “Check out our proactive steps to improve outcomes and reduce emotional stress. Also, it’s not just forested environments that are being impacted. Rangelands, woodlands, bosques and urban environments are all being impacted by wildfire this season. We encourage everyone to take proactive steps to be prepared.”
The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD, Forestry Division, and its partners – including the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, represented by Secretary Witte – came together to observe Southwest Wildfire Awareness Week in New Mexico and Arizona March 28. This year’s Southwest Wildfire Awareness Week (March 27-April 2) theme, “don’t wait for wildfires to start, prepare and be aware,” is a reminder that wildfire prevention and preparedness is everyone’s responsibility.
“Right now we are all seeing the destruction and devastation that wildfire can cause in New Mexico,” said State Forester Laura McCarthy. “Taking the initiative to protect your home and family should be a priority for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day and every day, because wildfire no longer has a season.”
The primary threat to homes during a wildfire are embers and not direct flames. Embers are small pieces of burning debris that can be carried more than a mile from a wildfire by the wind. Understanding and maintaining the Home Ignition Zone is the best way to withstand the threat of an ember storm.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on April 25 signed an executive order urging New Mexico municipalities and counties to ban the retail sale of fireworks in their communities.
For information about current fires, smoke activity and evacuations, visit the New Mexico Fire Information website. With incidences of wildfires increasing daily, EMNRD Forestry Division announced restrictions on fireworks, smoking, campfires and open fires in New Mexico. The restrictions went into effect at 12 p.m. Friday, April 22. The Forestry Division will continue to coordinate with other jurisdictions including federal, counties and municipalities to ensure that appropriate protections are in place to protect New Mexico as fire danger and wildfires increase.
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