New Mexico – President Joe Biden will travel to New Mexico this week in the wake of several record-breaking wildfires scorching thousands of acres of forest land this year.
Biden will meet with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, first responders and emergency personnel at the New Mexico State Emergency Operations Center in Santa Fe on Saturday.
Biden is traveling from Wednesday to Friday following the Summit of Americas in Los Angeles.
New Mexico is battling two of the biggest wildfires in its history—the Calf Valley-Hermits Peak Fire in the Santa Fe National Forest and the Black Fire in the Gila National Forest. They are collectively burning 605,000 acres and are the largest and third largest wildfires in the state’s recorded history.
The Calf Valley-Hermits Peak Fire began as two separate fires and merged in mid-May. The Hermits Peak Fire began as a burn set by Las Dispensas in the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District. Due to strong winds, the fire jumped the Line of Control and then escalated rapidly. The Calf Valley fire was traced back to a pile burn holdover from January. Mass fires are still showing moderate fire behavior, although containment has increased to 65%.
Lujan Grisham has been a critic of the federal government, calling on the Biden administration to take responsibility for triggering a natural disaster that destroyed at least 330 homes and left a financial toll of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Biden administration announced a $50 billion plan in January to stem the devastating wildfires, planned fires and logging to reduce trees and other vegetation that serve as tinder in areas most at risk. will more than double its usage. Prescribed burns are often used in wooded areas that are too thin by hand or machine.
The Black Fire started in mid-May for humanitarian reasons, although its specifics are still being investigated. When this wildfire began, northern New Mexico fires were already reaching historic territory. However, the Black Fire, in the mostly uninhabited part of the Gila National Forest, grew at an even faster rate than the Calf Valley-Hermits Peak Fire.
By the time Biden visits, the Black Fire is likely to be the second largest in state history. Although its growth has slowed, it is possible that the Black Fire may have burned more acres than its northern New Mexico counterpart. As of Monday, 49% of the Black Fire’s perimeter was contained.
Growth has slowed somewhat, but it is still possible that this fire will outlive its northern New Mexico counterpart. The danger of fire and smoke between the two has displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Many homes have also been lost in the northern part of the state – homes that have never previously been threatened by seasonal wildfires.
Leah Romero is the Trending Reporter at Las Cruces Sun-News and can be contacted at 575-418-3442, LRomero@lcsun-news.com or. @rromero_leah on Twitter.