A prescribed fire operation is planned by Tonto National Forest fire specialists for Dec. 13-17 approximately seven miles northeast of the community of Punkin Center.
The prescribed fire is designed to reduce the potential for large, catastrophic wildfires by targeting decadent stands of brush throughout the 17,000-acre project area. The goal is to treat 3,500 acres per year over the next several years.
“Completion of the project will be dependent on weather conditions, which can change rapidly this time of year,” said Mike Behrens, Fire Management Officer.
“If conditions stay relatively warm and dry, the operation will be completed in one day. Smoke will be visible during the day from Payson to Tonto Basin, but should clear off quickly after sunset.”
Re-introducing fire to fire-dependent ecosystems benefits wildlife and livestock by creating more palatable and diverse vegetation. The burn will be conducted to emulate natural fire patterns and create a mosaic of burned and unburned areas across the landscape.
Prescribed fire operations allows fire managers to take advantage of fire’s natural function in the ecosystem – reducing accumulated fuels on the forest floor, recycling nutrients into the soil, and protection of the greater area from future high-intensity wildland fires.
For more information about the prescribed fire, call the Tonto Basin Ranger District at 928-467-3200. Residents can also stay updated on forest prescribed fires at www.fs.usda.gov/Tonto. To report a wildland fire, the fire emergency number is 480-457-1555, or 866-746-6516.
Prescribed fire operations are planned for approximately 156 acres in the Bray Creek Ranch area from Monday, Dec. 6 to Friday, Dec. 10, north of Control Road 64, west of Forest Road 439, and east of Forest Road 440.
Residents and visitors to the area can expect to see and smell moderate to heavy amounts of smoke each day of the fire operations. Smoke will impact Bray Creek Ranch, Geronimo Boy Scout Camp, and Geronimo Estates areas throughout the day and evening.
Smoke may be visible from Payson and may last through Sunday, Dec. 12. Diurnal airflow in the evening hours will move residual smoke down Webber Creek and may flow into the East Verde Estates area.
“The prescribed fire treatment is being conducted to reduce and eliminate heavy dead and downed vegetative fuels left from the 2006 February Fire that broke out in the rugged terrain along the Mogollon Rim,” said Gary Roberts, Fire Prevention Officer.
By mid-week, fire personnel may begin a prescribed fire treatment of 450 acres east of Christopher Creek in the Colcord Road and Arizona Department of Transportation yard area.
Residents and visitors to the area can expect to see and smell heavy amounts of smoke during each day of the prescribed fire operation from Wednesday, Dec. 8 thru Friday, Dec. 10. Highway 260 and Gordon Canyon Estates will be impacted by smoke during each day of the operation. Diurnal airflow in the evening hours may move residual smoke into the Hunter Creek area.
To minimize the impact of smoke, fire personnel will end ignitions each day by 3 p.m.
When fire operations begin, signs will be posted along roads that are likely to be affected by smoke. Motorists are urged to use caution when driving through these areas.
“The Payson Ranger District fire staff appreciates the support of the community during these prescribed fire operations which are conducted to decrease the possibility of a catastrophic wildfire,” Roberts said. District fire personnel will conclude their prescribed fire operations for this year about Dec. 15 and plan to resume their fire treatments about Jan. 3, 2011.
Prescribed fire operations are always dependent on optimum weather conditions such as temperature, relative humidity, fuel moisture content, and wind speed and direction prior to ignition.
For information about prescribed fire and mechanical fuels reduction operations, please call the Payson Ranger District at 928-474-7900. Residents can also stay updated on forest prescribed fires at www.fs.usda.gov/Tonto. To report a wildland fire, the fire emergency number is 480-457-1555, or 866-746-6516.