With mild temperatures and little snow, many people are using this stint of odd winter weather to catch up or get ahead on yard work. And that often means burning brush and debris.
Burn permits are required for all agricultural burns throughout Taos County, firefighters recently reitterated for The Taos News.
Household trash, tires, pallets and construction waste cannot be burned but must be dumped at county landfill sites.
For people who live in the town of Taos or in the greater Taos area - including Taos Pueblo, El Prado, Ranchos de Taos, Talpa and Los Cordovas - burn permits are available at the Taos Fire Department, 323 Camino de la Placitas, Taos.
Permits are free and issued for a seven-day window.
For people who live outside of the greater Taos area - including Costilla, Amalia, Peñasco, Taos Canyon, Arroyo Hondo, Arroyo Seco and Taos Ski Valley - burn permits are issued by the Taos County Office of Emergency Management, which is located in the Llano Quemado Community Center on Miranda Canyon Road. The office is generally open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. but closed for the lunch hour.
Permits in the county are also free but issued for a one-month window.
Permits for both the town and county allow for burning only during the daylight hours.
Residents with a burn permit are required to call Taos Central Dispatch at (575) 758-3361 before burning begins and after it's finished.
If it's too windy to burn (wind speeds over 10 miles per hour), dispatchers will alert the resident that burning cannot happen that day. But having a burn permit on hand - along with physical addresses and contact information for the property owner - also helps firefighters locate a fire should it get out of control, explained Bobby Lucero, director of the emergency management office.
Though the Taos County government is working to upgrade its information technology system, so burn permits can eventually be processed online, county residents must fill out an application at the office in Llano Quemado, Lucero told The Taos News.
"Unfortunately, that's the way we're doing things at the moment," he said, but added he and his staff will try to help out residents who live at the far reaches of the county and for whom distance is an issue.