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State introduces new prescribed burn training for landowners


State introduces new prescribed burn training for landowners

Oct 02, 2023 | 6:00 am ET
By Megan Myscofski
State introduces new prescribed burn training for landowners
Fuel cans sit in the snow such as the one seen at a Glorieta Camps pile burn conducted by the Forest Stewards Guild in 2021. (Courtesy Photo)

Many private landowners and small organizations conduct controlled burns in New Mexico, but the federal guidelines can be of limited help to them. A new voluntary certification program called for by a 2021 law is now up and running to teach New Mexicans how to safely conduct a prescribed burn.

The Prescribed Burning Act called on the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department’s Forestry Division to create the training program.

“I think it’s an accessible training. It’s engaging. It doesn’t take too long,” State Forester Laura McCarthy said of the 4-5 hour training for landowners and contractors who have conducted burns for years, as well as those new to owning a large plot of land.

It includes online and experience components, and there is no timeline for completing it.

The committee that created it included members from both inside and outside of state government, and McCarthy says the 2022 wildfire season, and especially the Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak Fire, did impact the content of the training.

“It does appear that their contingency plan and the resources that they had available in the event that they needed to use the contingency plan were insufficient,” McCarthy said.

The training covers contingency planning and other safety measures.

“You want to have thought through what can go wrong and then you want to have access ready, quick access to the resources you need,” McCarthy said.

The act also limits liability for those who complete the training in the case that a prescribed burn causes damage.

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.