KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Kirtland conducted its first successful prescribed burn at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., on March 9, 2023.
A prescribed burn is an intentional fire intended for brush management, fire suppression, or restoration to the land. According to Clyde Burris Jr., KAFB wildland support module lead, one of the biggest reasons for the Air Force wildland fire branch to conduct burns is to mitigate the harm of wildfires to training, the mission and potential destruction of infrastructure, on and off the installation.
“It was a very successful burn,” said Burris. “We were able to get good consumption on all the grass. We didn't quite get as much mortality on the Juniper trees as we'd like, but we did get some [mortality] which was expected, so we achieved our goal for that.”
Kirtland’s first burn treated about 80 acres of land and ultimately achieved its objective of reducing combustible plant material and created a protective buffer between Kirtland and neighboring communities in case of wildfires.
Melissa Clark, 377th Mission Support Group installation management chief, explained that the coordination between Kirtland and local entities aided in the mission’s success and provided a starting point for future burns.
“We were able to get people familiar with the process, get the firefighters familiar with their roles and lay the groundwork to continue to build upon a program to develop prescribed fire on this base,” said Clark.
After the success of these prescribed burns, Kirtland will likely continue its mitigation efforts with more burns in the future when conditions allow.