Wildfire season is here

PHOTO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich meets with wildland firefighters in the Gila National Forest, July 3, 2017.

Dear Friend,

Especially after such a dry winter, as we head into wildfire season here in New Mexico, it's important for each of us to do our part to protect our communities from unintended fires.

Learning about wildfire danger and being prepared can help reduce the threat of fires to our natural surroundings, our homes, and businesses. That's why I launched the Wildfire Preparedness & Prevention Resource Center on my website, which includes prevention tips, best practices to protect homes and businesses, an interactive map of active wildfire information, and more.

If you are one of the many New Mexicans who live in a community at risk, creating a defensible space around your home is one of the most effective steps you can take to protect your family and property from wildfire. Clearing your property of debris and maintaining your landscaping are good ways to minimize damage and loss.

Here are just a few tips to help prepare your home and property for wildfire season:

  • Inspect your roof. Replace or repair shingles that are loose or missing, cover any gaps created by corrugated roof materials, and cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent ember penetration.
  • Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
  • Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches and cover areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent combustible materials from accumulating.
  • Remove flammable materials such as firewood stacks, small propane tanks, and dry vegetation within 30 feet of your home's foundation and other buildings. If it can catch fire, don't let it touch your house, deck or porch.
  • Wildfire can spread via tree tops. If you have trees on your property, prune so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground and it's a good idea to prune them so they are not touching your house.
  • Keep your lawn and other vegetation nearest your home hydrated and maintained. If it is brown, cut it down to reduce fire intensity and choose FireWise plants to create defensible space landscaping.

Through my role on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, I am fighting for wildfire funding reform and improvements to catastrophic wildfire prevention programs in New Mexico, including hazardous fuel reduction, stewardship contracting, and watershed restoration. We must reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and make it easier for federal land managers and businesses to partner on long-term, large-scale forest treatment. 

This fire season, we can all play a part in protecting the places we love. Let's all pledge to make safety a priority.

Sincerely,

MARTIN HEINRICH
United States Senator