A severe drought and an unnatural buildup of brush and small trees has led to four consecutive fire seasons that rank as the most challenging on record.
More than 20 million acres have been ravaged by the Willow, Rodeo-Chediski, and other fires. As part of an interagency strategy, the Payson Ranger District wants to treat 40,927 acres of Forest Service land around Payson, Pine and Strawberry and is seeking public input.
Among the goals of the plan, called the Pine/Strawberry Wildland Urban Interface Project, are:
- Reduce fuels
- Reduce risk of uncharacteristically intense fire
- Develop sustainable forest conditions
- Restore natural ecological systems
A combination of treatments would include thinning from below; grassland restoration; fuelbreaks construction and maintenance; and pile-burning, broadcast burning and vegetative maintenance.
The general boundaries of the treatment areas, all on the Payson Ranger District, are the Mogollon Rim to the north, Highway 87 to the east, Doll Baby Ranch Road (FR406) to the south, and the Mazatzal and Fossil Creek wilderness areas to the west.
Unless substantive comments are received, implementation is scheduled to begin in December following an environmental assessment. To comment or get questions answered, write to Payson Ranger District, 1009 E. Highway 260, Payson, AZ 85541, call Ed Paul at (928) 474-7979, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The district has scheduled an open house for 10 a.m., Saturday, June 25, at the Pine Community Center.