The Payson Ranger District is proposing to implement prescribed burning on 40 to 60 percent of a 4,425-acre area in the vicinity of Gibson Creek and the Upper and Lower Round Valley subdivisions.
The proposal, which also has the backing of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, is ripe for approval because the existing vegetation in the area is mainly dense stands of chaparral vegetation and juniper woodland, according to U.S. Forest Service Fire Prevention Officer Gary Roberts.
The prescribed burning, forest service officials predict, would increase wildlife diversity, rejuvenate vegetation and reduce the potential for large wildfires. The burn would also increase water yield from run-off by opening up the stands of vegetation, which in turn is expected to provide a "long-term beneficial effect to the limited amount of riparian vegetation along Gibson Creek," Roberts said.
If approved by area residents, the treatments would occur during the fall, winter and spring months over the next two years.
The proposal also seeks to ensure the protection of area homes, property and recreational and cultural sites during and following the burns by using fire engines and fire personnel, pre- and post-burn monitoring for smoke emissions and fire effects.
Payson Ranger District officials are now soliciting comments from area residents concerning any issues, concerns or possible alternatives that may affect the proposal. Those who would like to respond may submit their comments no later than Aug. 21 to Mark Empey at the Payson Ranger District, 1009 E. Highway 260, Payson, AZ 85541; by phone at 474-7900; or by e-mail at medley@FL.fed.us.
Depending on weather conditions and available personnel, the Forest Service will be conducting a pair of approved prescribed burns during the months of August and September. One is scheduled for the Hunter Creek/ Christopher Creek areas; the other will be a return and completion of work in the Manaco area from Highway 260 to Moore Creek.