The smoke visible north of Payson in recent days is the result of a prescribed burn by the Coconino National Forest near Highways 260 and 87, several prescribed burns by the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, and a four-acre fire east of Tonto Creek caused by a tree hitting a power line.
Rim country residents can expect to see a lot more smoke in the coming months as the Payson Ranger District burns 30,000 piles of forest debris created when fuel breaks were put in to protect communities.
In addition, another 5,000 acres in the Rim country will be treated by prescribed burning over the next 12 months as part of a 25,000-acre project recently announced by the Tonto National Forest.
The three areas targeted for treatment in the Payson area include 2,875 acres just north of Payson Municipal Airport and two 1,000-acre sites near Verde Glen and Little Green Valley.
Vinnie Picard, public information officer for the Tonto National Forest, announced the projects.
"Basically we're just concentrating on reducing some of the wildfire threat from that wildland urban interface," Picard said. "We're not just doing prescribed burning; we have a lot of burn piles out there from lines we've put in the last year or two, so we're also going to be concentrating on getting those burned out as well."
A daily list and map showing prescribed fires approved by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality can be found on the Forest Service's Southwest Coordination Center website (www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire/swapredictive/swaintel/daily/swa-rx-reprot_az.htm).