FARMINGTON – The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday lifted fire restrictions in New Mexico, and on Wednesday, San Juan County said it would issue burn permits beginning Thursday.
The Farmington Fire Department’s ban on burn permits still stood as of Thursday.
The BLM and New Mexico State Forestry ended fire restrictions at 8 a.m. Tuesday. The agency cited increased moisture and higher humidity statewide.
Campfires will be allowed, but the BLM encouraged caution because not all portions of the state have received equal amounts of rainfall. Caution is advised for operating a vehicle or equipment in dry grass or brush areas, and the BLM recommends a shovel, fire extinguisher and extra water for trips outdoors.
State Forester Laura McCarthy warned that a wildfire could still start, especially in northern and eastern New Mexico, where drought conditions still exist.
While the Farmington Fire Department announced it would not issue burn permits for Farmington, San Juan County Fire Department is now issuing permits for Kirtland and unincorporated areas of San Juan County. Both agencies stopped issuing burn permits in March, following state and federal guidelines.
San Juan County Fire Department announced Wednesday it would issue permits beginning Thursday based on daily weather conditions. Permits will be issued only when the weather is conducive to safe burning and may be issued for half-day burning only. Burn permits will be issued from 8 a.m. to noon and are issued only on the day they are to be used. Only vegetative material may be burned.
Farmington Fire Department had not released additional statements about future burn permits as of Thursday.
A study released last week by the Western Resource Advocates found much of the Interior West, including the Four Corners, was experiencing drought despite a winter with heavy snow. In particular, southern Colorado and northern New Mexico were experiencing extreme drought, while the rest of the Four Corners faces severe drought conditions, according to the outdoor advocacy group.
The study cited higher-than-average temperatures and below-average rainfall throughout the West, which led to earlier snow runoff, dry soil and low flows in many of the rivers. This time last year, most of the West was out of a short-term drought because of a heavy snowpack across the region.