Santa Fe National Forest officials announced in March they were suspending intentionally set fires during the COVID-19 outbreak. The reason given was to protect the public from the hazardous effects of smoke that could “further endanger at-risk members of our communities” during the pandemic.

This was the right decision, since smoke can irritate your lungs, cause inflammation, affect the immune system and make you more prone to being infected with the coronavirus.

But these same officials now plan to resume burning this winter, despite the fact COVID-19 cases are not only still with us but are widespread in the community. In addition, private parties will join in burning thousands more acres this winter (“Prescribed burns planned for 7,400 acres across Northern New Mexico,” Nov. 29). It makes no sense to resume burning now, when the health risk from COVID-19 has increased exponentially.

Dr. Ann McCampbell is an environmental health consultant. For contact information and more, visit santafeforestcoalition.org.

Popular in the Community