New Mexico and Idaho are among the states with the most acres burned by wildfires in 2022

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New Mexico and Idaho were among the five states with the most acres burned by wildfires in 2022.

With the devastating fire in Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak largest wildfire in state history, it’s no surprise that New Mexico ranks second with 859,906 acres burned, only behind Alaska, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Idaho ranks fifth with 436,733 acres.

Figures do not include acres burned in mandated fires. Doug Cram, a forest and fire specialist at New Mexico State University, says if that were the case, he’d like to see New Mexico on top.

“Hectares burned isn’t really the number we’re interested in, it’s the severity of the fire. If we’re #1 for low-severity surfaces, that would be great,” said Cram.

“It’s kind of a ‘pay me now or pay me later’ environment,” he said. “We’re going to have fires one way or the other – how are you going to burn your forest?”

Cram says the West needs to become “better burners” and weave mandatory fires more into the culture so that when fires do happen, there are less to burn and they are less bad.

“The culture in New Mexico in August is, ‘We expect to smell the green chili roasting.’ And so this culture of burning is like — maybe we have a culture of winter stake burning and carry over the spring burn,” Cram said, referring to the need for greater acceptance and acceptance of prescribed fire.

Wildfires burned about 58,402 acres in Nevada, 45,732 acres in Colorado, 27,245 acres in Utah and 25,767 in Wyoming, according to an email from Carrie Bibao of the National Interagency Fire Center.

This story was produced by Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliated stations throughout the region. The Mountain West News Bureau is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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