The Bureau of Land Management Socorro Field Office, in cooperation with the New Mexico State Land Office, plans to conduct a prescribed fire on Chupadera Mesa east of Socorro, between Monday and April 30. The operation is weather dependent. The BLM will treat up to 1,742 acres of grass and brush in three different burn units. The treatment area is located 3 miles north of US Highway 380 and approximately 40 miles east-southeast of Socorro and 25 miles northwest of Carrizozo.

Active ignition will take three to five days, with some smoke visible in the treatment area for up to a week after ignition operations are completed. In addition to on-the-ground preparation and planning, the BLM will obtain daily and extended weather forecasts for the area from the National Weather Service. This occurs prior to and during fire operations to ensure the prescribed fire meets objectives, is within prescription parameters, and the treatment can be contained to the planned area.

Once ignition operations are completed, firefighters will monitor the area until there is no visible smoke. Smoke may be visible from Socorro, White Sands Missile Range, Bingham and Carrizozo. Although smoke may be visible from Highway 380, it is not expected to impact the highway. Nevertheless, motorists are advised to proceed with caution when driving through the area.

Objectives for the project:

  • Remove dead woody material from previous thinning treatments;
  • Reduce catastrophic wildfire risk;
  • Reduce tree encroachment into traditional grasslands;
  • Rejuvenate grasses, forbs and shrubs;
  • Improve ecosystem and watershed health; and
  • Enhance wildlife habitat.

Prescribed fire is one of the most effective tools to manage vegetation and reduce hazardous fuels. By reducing the volume of vegetation and fuels under pre-defined conditions, land managers mimic the natural fire cycle, which greatly reduces the dangers and risks associated with unplanned wildfires and benefits the local ecosystem.

Coordination has occurred and will continue with adjacent landowners, range allotment permittees, county fire cooperators, Department of Defense and New Mexico Forestry. For questions, contact the BLM’s Socorro Field Office at (575) 835-0412. You can also follow the implementation of the project on, on, or

Chieftain Staff Report