Coconino Forest Sparks Slew Of Controlled Burns

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The Coconino National Forest will continue controlled burns this week, after the weekend storms dampened the fuel and reduced the chance a burn will get out of hand.

Forest Service fire managers describe the conditions as “excellent.”

The Coconino set several prescribed burns near Flagstaff on Monday, with others closer to Rim Country planned for the balance of the week.

Today, forest managers plan a 10-acre fire south of Highway 87 near the Blue Ridge Reservoir, with smoke expected to drift to the south.

The project will help protect the watershed of the Blue Ridge Reservoir, which remains vital to Payson’s water future.

Forest managers say that an uncontrolled burn at the wrong time of the year could denude the slopes that drain into the reservoir, resulting in a big increase in silt in the reservoir, which would reduce the lifespan of a lake expected to provide half of Payson’s water once the town completes its pipeline.

On Monday, crews torched piles of wood and debris from earlier hand thinning on 300 acres just south of Mountainaire, east of I-17. These are large, machine-created piles produced during a thinning project. Smoke will rise and disperse to the northeast.

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