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The Refuge conducted its' first prescribed burn within the San Andres Mountains on Black Brushy Mountain in June, 1999. Approximately 1,700 acres were burned during this operation. The purpose of prescribed burning is to closely mimic the natural occurrence of fire in the ecosystem to restore natural fire regimes and ecological processes.

In May 2001 the Bennett Mountain prescribed burn was conducted by Refuge fire personnel as well as firefighters from other Federal agencies. This prescribed burn covered approximately 16,500 acres improving desert bighorn sheep habitat, reducing juniper and piñon pine encroachment, rejuvenating mountain mahogany plant communities, and restoring Chihuahuan Desert grassland habitats. This prescribed burn was the largest conducted in New Mexico by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The San Andres Mountain prescribed burn was conducted in April/May 2003. This burn treated approximately 16,000 acres on San Andres Peak as part of the Refuge's continuing program to improve habitat for desert bighorn sheep.

In June, 2004, 10,690 acres were treated in the northern portion of the Refuge during the Mayberry prescribed burn.

An additional 700 acres were treated on the Refuge during the Lion Den prescribed burn June 8-11, 2005. Fire Operations were terminated due to unfavorable weather conditions. The Lion Den prescribed burn has been rescheduled for June 2006 with a target burn area of 11,500 acres.


San Andres National Wildlife Refuge prescribed burns.  Photo with engine taken by Bosque del Apache NWR employee, Leroy Saavedra.  All other photos taken by Refuge Wildlife Biologist, M. Weisenberger.
Lion Den prescribed burn operation.  Photo taken by Refuge Wildlife Biologist, M. Weisenberger