- Associated Press - Monday, March 31, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Gov. Susana Martinez warned New Mexicans on Monday that the state is entering what could be another season of destructive wildfires.

“Historic drought conditions heighten the risk of what already has the potential to be another active and dangerous wildfire season,” the governor said.

“The devastation seen last year in New Mexico can happen again. We need to do everything we can to protect our communities.”

Martinez made the remarks as she and officials from various agencies gathered at the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park to kick off “Wildfire Awareness Week.”

So far this year, nearly 100 fires have burned close to 6,000 acres of state and private land, officials said.

The 2013 fire season was brief but very active. Wildfires burned more than 190,000 acres on public and private lands and forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents.

The fiscal year 2015 state budget that Governor Martinez recently signed includes several initiatives to better prepare for wildfire season, including funding to make permanent a program that hires and trains military veterans as wildland firefighters and nearly $10 million in funding for projects such as watershed restoration and protection and forest thinning near urban areas.

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