Fire managers from U.S. and abroad attend NM Controlled Burn Training

Media invited to front lines

Chama, NM | May 05, 2017

Fire trucks, heavy machinery, gear, hoses, and nearly 30 fire workers from the U.S., Spain and Indonesia will descend upon a small town in New Mexico for a unique training.The Chama Peak Land Alliance (CPLA) in partnership with The Nature Conservancy will be hosting a Controlled Burn Fire Training Exchange (TREX) May 5-14, 2017 in and around Chama.

The training provides opportunities for local and regional firefighters, scientists and managers to work side by side while building experience in controlled burn practices, fire effects, and other conservation efforts affecting forests. Most of the work—a combination of classroom learning and hands-on experiences—will take place on private land with the support of landowners in the Chama Peak Land Alliance. Participants are scheduled to implement scientifically-based controlled fires on approximately 500 acres.

Jeremy Bailey, associate director of the Fire Learning Network for The Nature Conservancy, will lead the two-week exchange. “Fire is an effective and important tool in land management. Rather than a random event, we can prepare for and conduct fire in a way that benefits people, animals, and the forests we depend on.” 

Nearly a century of aggressive fire suppression in the U.S. has prevented natural fires that once burned regularly, reducing fuel loads and promoting new growth and diversity. The controlled burns will help create forests and grasslands that more closely resemble our historical state, which is the most resilient. 

The Chama Peak Land Alliance — a group of conservation-minded landowners in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico — is excited about this partnership that has been effectively stewarding the land since 2015 through a variety of forest treatments, including the use of prescribed fire. Private landowners face many barriers to using fire, including liability and lack of qualified personnel. This training will build understanding, skills and confidence in using fire. 

“This partnership will improve the land that provides so much for all of us both in the headwaters and downstream in Albuquerque and Santa Fe — clean drinking water, abundant wildlife habitat, and extraordinary recreational opportunities,” says Emily Hohman, Executive Director of the Chama Peak Land Alliance. “By working together, we can ensure this spectacular landscape is resilient for decades to come and for future generations.”

The Training Exchange program began in 2008 to help address the shortage of personnel qualified to lead and conduct prescribed burns. Since then, the Fire Learning Network has delivered nearly 100,000 acres of prescribed fire and provided over 2000 training opportunities for fire practitioners. 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The TREX is part of a joint effort between The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Chama Peak Land Alliance (CPLA) entitled Fire Ecology and Resiliency in the San Juan – Chama Watershed thanks to TNC’s recently launched Rio Grande Water Fund. In January 2015, CPLA was awarded $410,000 from the Water Fund for the treatment of 800 acres, through prescribed fire and thinning, over the next three years to improve forest health and restore wildlife habitat on six to ten properties in the San Juan – Chama landscape of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. 

Through this program, CPLA is working with landowners and partners to: 1) Create fire plans for private lands, and coordinate fire management activities across jurisdictional boundaries, including private lands and local, state, federal agencies tribal and other jurisdictions in the project area responsible for fire management, including the U.S. Forest Service, 2) Share lessons learned from cross-boundary management in this forested landscape with others restoring forests in the Rio Grande Water Fund area, and with other members of the national Fire Learning Network, and 3) Increase the ability of local ranches, community members, and local, tribal, state and federal government partners to conduct prescribed burns through trainings and workshops in the region. 


The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Tracey Stone


Stay Updated

Learn about the places you love and find out how you can help by signing up for Nature eNews.

I'm already on the list Read our privacy policy

Thank you for joining our online community!

We'll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates, and exciting stories.