The press release reads in part: "Approximately 2,000 acres will be treated ... between August 29th and the end of October. From October through December fire managers will treat an additional 700 acres of piles... Smoke from these burn projects will be visible from the city of Santa Fe and surrounding areas.
"The Santa Fe Watershed Project was designed to reduce dense small-diameter tree stands within a 7,270 acre area in the watershed that pose a wildfire threat to both the watershed and the city of Santa Fe. The watershed is one of the main sources of water for the city Santa Fe, providing 40 percent of the City's water. Since 2002 when the project began, 4,648 acres have been thinned, and 1,848 acres of piles have been burned successfully. Approximately 1,000 acres will be thinned in 2006, to be followed with additional prescribed burning."
There's a description of the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed Project at Community Responses to Wildland Fire Threats in New Mexico, a case study performed by North Carolina State University at the request of the Santa Fe National Forest.
The photos below are a reminder of why this kind of work needs to be done. They are of the Trampas Fire in the Pecos Wilderness in 2002, taken from a hotshot team's website that summer. The photo above is from the same site, showing the amount of fuel available in the overgrown forest.