Forest Reopens

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At 8 a.m. this morning, the U.S. Forest Service reopened the majority of the Tonto National Forest areas that had been closed some for almost two months due to extreme fire hazards.

The Forest Service first began implementing the closures May 24. By the end of June, all of the Tonto had been shut down to public entry.

Some of the Tonto will remain closed. The Pinal Mountains, located south of Globe, will continue to be off-limits until sufficient rain is received in that area. And the sections of the Canyon Creek Recreation Area that were burned by the Rodeo-Chediski Fire will remain closed due to public safety concerns.

Also, the following restrictions will remain in effect north of Roosevelt Lake and east of the Verde River, including the Payson and Young areas:

Campfires, charcoal fires and stove fires are permitted only in Forest Service developed camp and picnic grounds.

Petroleum- and propane-fueled stoves and lanterns are allowed outside of developed recreation sites if they meet safety specifications.

Smoking is allowed within an enclosed vehicle, building, developed recreation site or while stopped in a cleared area at least three feet in diameter. Smokers are requested to properly dispose of all smoking materials.

Lightning-caused fires continue to be a threat, and recreational users are expected to be careful with all flammable materials. "Despite the improved conditions, the forest is still dry in many areas," said Karl Siderits, forest supervisor for Tonto National Forest. "We are asking visitors to help prevent human-caused wildfires by following the campfire and smoking restrictions in our high country."

The Coronado National Forest will lift closures Thursday, July 18. Prescott National Forests will also lift closures Friday, July 19, 2002.

For further information on reopenings and restrictions within the Tonto forest, call (602) 225-5200. For Arizona fire restriction and closure information call toll-free (877) 864- 6985 or visit www.azfireinfo.com.

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