Dead Tree Creates Mess On Highway

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Courtesy photo

Work crews cut and clear State Highway 277 after a dead tree shattered when it fell into the roadway.

The week started out with a “Red Flag” warning and very high winds on Monday. The wind really picked up around 11 a.m. and continued until the evening and tapered off slowly until 10 p.m. when it dropped off. Some gusts were as high as 52 mph as reported from a Heber wind speed indicator. The wind direction was coming directly from the south.

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Courtesy photo

Lack of a root system coupled with high winds contributed to this tree toppling onto the highway Monday.

A very large tree toppled over late Monday afternoon crashing onto State Highway 277, just west of Mogollon Drive.

The full-sized dead ponderosa stood only 30 feet from the highway, lacking a sturdy root system to withstand the heavy winds we received from the south.

A combination of past tree beetle infestation, soft soil and a rotting base probably contributed to this occurrence. Fortunately, there was no traffic on State Highway 277 in the immediate area where it fell at that particular time.

A crew consisting of the Heber-Overgaard Fire Department and a private individual cut and cleared the highway expeditiously. When the tree impacted the highway, much of the dead tree shattered, causing a large mess to clean up. Arizona Department of Transportation DPS officer’s funneled traffic to one lane at the far end of the highway from where the tree fell until the work crew cleaned up the highway.

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Dee Hines

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests (ASNFs) will soon welcome a new addition to the Black Mesa Ranger District. No, it isn’t more office space or a bigger parking lot, but it’s a new district ranger — Dee Hines.

Dee began his career with the U.S. Forest Service in 1978 as a seasonal student employee on the Unita National Forest in northern Utah. During this time, he attended Utah State University, where in 1980 he received his bachelor’s degree in forest management, and in 1984 he received his master’s degree in forest ecology.

Upon graduation, Dee started his first permanent job with the agency at the Southern Research Station in which he worked in several of the southern states. Eventually, his career took him back to the western U.S. where he worked at various duty stations in Oregon, Wyoming and Arizona. Throughout his 30-plus-year career, Dee has worked in many management areas including: forest inventory, silviculture, geographic information system (GIS), forest planning, and as a forest staff officer. Most recently, he was the district ranger on the Verde Ranger District (Prescott National Forest) in Camp Verde.

“Dee is exactly the individual we were looking for! We’re extremely fortunate to have found someone with the qualifications and rich experience that he has,” explained Chris Knopp, forest supervisor for the ASNFs.

He added, “Dee will be a great addition to the Black Mesa Ranger District and the forest.”

As for the district itself, Black Mesa encompasses approximately 616,000 acres and covers much of the eastern half of the Mogollon Rim in central Arizona. Its elevation ranges from approximately 5,700 to 7,800 feet above sea level, and its predominant vegetation types are ponderosa pine, pinon and juniper. The district is home to several lakes such as Woods Canyon Lake and Willow Springs Lake which are popular places for camping, fishing and boating.

Other activities that take place there include: tree harvesting, grazing, hunting, OHV riding, hiking and mountain biking.

“Black Mesa is a great ranger district and I’m excited about working with people in the community on various projects,” Dee stated.

In his spare time, Dee enjoys spending time with his wife, Jeannie, and their three daughters. He also enjoys many outdoor activities including hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, canoeing, fishing and taking pictures.

With two daughters living out of state and the third attending NAU, Dee and Jeannie are enjoying the “empty nest” stage of their lives, and they are excited about the opportunities that await them in their new hometown. Dee speaks for both of them when he says, “The Heber-Overgaard area is beautiful. My wife and I feel very fortunate to be moving there, and we look forward to getting involved in the community.”

Dee’s official starting date was Monday, April 12.

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