1,700-Acre Prescribed Burn To Create Smoke Tuesday North Of Airport

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There is be a large scale prescribed burn slated for Tuesday, March 6, north of Payson Airport.

A large, landscape-scale prescribed burn of approximately 1,700 acres is planned for an area of dense and decadent chaparral brush and pinon-juniper about a half-mile north of the Payson Airport and Summit Canyon and east of Crackerjack Ridge. Ignition will commence about noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6, if predicted conditions of ideal fuel moisture content, wind speed and direction, temperature, relative and humidity are present. Residents, property owners and visitors to Rim Country can expect to see large volumes of black smoke for a brief duration of two to four hours and flame lengths of 40 to 50 feet. Most smoke from the prescribed burn will funnel down the East Verde River.

The slated prescribed burn is just one component in the Payson Ranger District's long range, far-reaching fuels reduction strategy that began in 2001. The achievable goal is to reduce catastrophic wildfire danger in Mogollon Rim country, to initiate the restoration of natural ecological systems, and to develop and foster sustainable forest conditions. Thus far in 2007, wildland fire personnel have successfully treated 4,066 acres on the Payson Ranger District with prescribed fire.

Prescribed fire allows land managers to burn under the right conditions, enhancing protection of natural and cultural resources while diminishing danger to the public and firefighters. In addition to reducing dense and decadent fuel loading, prescribed fire also accelerates vegetative debris decomposition on the forest floor and decreases competition between woody plants. Prescribed fire also stimulates nutrient release back into the soil, making it a more fertile and vital soil. Plans to treat 19 strategic acres with prescribed fire just east of the Tonto Apache Reservation on Wednesday, Feb. 28, were postponed when conditions did not meet required standards to conduct a safe burning operation.

On Thursday, March 1, however, ideal conditions allowed wildland fire personnel from the Payson Range District to successfully burn 15 acres of debris piles in a fuel break just east of the Rim Golf Club. Only 33 acres of debris piles remain to be treated with prescribed fire to complete a fuel break south of Payson that runs from Star Valley on the east to Highway 87 on the west.

Your patience and understanding is genuinely appreciated as the Payson Ranger District works to move Rim Country out of harm's way.

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