Public Input Sought For Wildfire Mitigation

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Rim country residents can air their views and ask questions about a proposal to treat forest fuels on 35,000 acres within and adjacent to Payson at an open house scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21, in the Julia Randall Elementary School cafeteria.

Treatments under consideration include the mechanical construction of fuel breaks, prescribed burning, and the use of goats.

The vegetation over much of the project area is mostly chaparral, on which goats browse, and their use avoids some of the risks inherent in broadcast burning, such as fire escaping and excessive smoke.

The objective is to reduce heavy fuel loads and to mitigate the threat of wildfire to Payson and surrounding Rim country communities.

The proposal, called the Payson Wildland Urban Interface Project, is the largest wildland/urban interface wildfire mitigation project in the state of Arizona, according to Payson District Ranger Ed Armenta.

General boundaries are the East Verde River to the north, the APS power line east of Star Valley on the east, an east-west line located approximately 1.5 miles south of Ox Bow Estates on the south, and a north-south line located approximately 1.5 miles west of the Payson sewage treatment plant on the west.

Copies of the proposed action and maps of the treatment area will be available at the open house. They can also be obtained by calling the Payson Ranger District office at (928) 474-7900.

Questions regarding the open house or the proposed treatment should be addressed to Ed Paul at the phone number above or by e-mail at epaul@fs.fed.us.

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