As firefighters continue to get the Little Bear Fire under control, Gov. Susana Martinez is asking the federal government to do its job to prevent large fires like this from happening again.
U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce blamed the state for not responding quickly to the fire, but Martinez told ABC-7 the blame really lies on the federal government, which is in charge of the Lincoln National Forest.
"We can't keep doing this. Otherwise, we continue to burn our state down," Martinez said.
They were strong words from Martinez in light of two major wildfires currently burning through thousands of acres in the state.
"The main thing I'm afraid of is that we have mismanaged big parts of our national forests and the wilderness," Martinez said.
Martinez said the national forests that cover much of the state need to maintained better.
"We have allowed a lot of fuel to gather up in the forests, which are pine needles, dead wood, wood that's dead from bug infestations, and it's not cleaned out, thinned out, in a responsible way," Martinez said.
She said that responsibility falls on the federal government.
"The state does not have a responsibility or even an ability to get on the national forest or the wilderness. That is completely the federal government's responsibility," Martinez said.
Martinez said what the state can focus on is regulating open burning and fireworks, but until the forests are maintained properly, the forests will continue to burn.
"The federal government is not very good at being proactive. When you have that kind of fuel, 40-mile-an-hour winds, and you have very difficult terrain, and it is low humidity, you have a wildfire. And, that's where we're stuck right now," said Martinez.
In response to Pearce's comments that the state did not respond swiftly to the fire, Martinez told ABC-7 firefighters did all they could with the weather conditions and rough terrain.