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Gov. Lujan Grisham statement on U.S. Forest Service announcement of 90-day pause on prescribed burns

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday issued the below statement following the U.S. Forest Service announcing the initiation of a 90-day pause on prescribed fire operations on National Forest System lands:

“I am glad to hear that, following my conversation with U.S. Department of Agriculture and Forest Service leadership earlier today, the Forest Service will implement a 90-day pause and review of prescribed burns on federal lands.

“While we’re clear about the long-term importance of carefully studied and well-managed prescribed burns as tools to improve forest management, it is critical that federal agencies update and modernize these practices in response to a changing climate, as what used to be considered extreme conditions are now much more common – the situation unfolding in New Mexico right now demonstrates without a doubt the grave consequences of neglecting to do so.

“New Mexico will continue to work with the Forest Service to ensure voices at the local level are heard as the agency re-evaluates how and when they conduct prescribed burns. As I did today, I will continue to relentlessly pursue every available avenue for resources that make affected New Mexicans whole and prevents a tragedy like this one from happening again.”

Gov. Lujan Grisham met with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore earlier on Friday to discuss national forest management in New Mexico and advocate for additional federal assistance as multiple wildfires continue to burn across the state, including one that began as a federally prescribed burn that escaped containment.