The combination of rising temperatures, dry tinder, a forecast of dry lightning this week and wildfires already burning, has prompted officials to close most of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.
Several Rim Country campgrounds and trails will remain open, but with strict fire restrictions.
“We will be closing the rest of the Black Mesa District, but have decided to keep some manageable areas open,” said Dee Hines with the Black Mesa District Ranger.
“I need to stress that closures mean closures to all public. If private lands border “closed” national forest land, access is still prohibited.”
Areas that are closed to public access include all national forest lands, roads and trails within the Black Mesa Ranger District.
Areas that will remain open with fire restrictions:
• Woods Canyon Recreation Area, including the following campgrounds: Aspen, Spillway, Crook group site, Spillway group site and Woods Canyon group site.
• Rocky Point day use area, Woods Canyon dump station, Woods Canyon administrative site, Woods Canyon maintenance area, Woods Canyon Lake, Woods Canyon store and marina and the Meadow Trail will remain open
• Black Mesa Ranger District Administrative Site, Tall Timbers County Park, Camp Shadow Pines Organization Camp Permit Area, Arizona Department of Public Safety Administrative Site and the Heber Work Center
• Canyon Point Campground, Sinkhole Campground, Willow Springs Lake Day Use Area, Willow Springs Boat Ramp and Willow Springs Lake
• Rim Top Trailhead, Rim Lake Vista Trail between the Rim Top Trailhead 3.7, including the Military Sinkhole Vista, Rim Vista, and Woods Canyon Vista, Rim Campground, Mogollon Rim Visitor Center
• National Forest Road 238 from its junction with Hwy. 260 to the Canyon Point Campground
Visitors to any of the open sites are allowed in developed areas only.
Hiking, biking, prohibited outside of boundaries
Walking, hiking, biking or any other types of travel outside the boundaries of the open area is prohibited.
Current fire restrictions prohibit campfires, and coal, wood or charcoal fires, smoking outside of a vehicle or building, and discharging firearms.
Fireworks are always prohibited in national forests.
Forest Service Law Enforcement and other personnel will be patrolling forest roads and trails.
“We ask that people be extremely cautious outdoors at this time, be aware of your surroundings and report all illegal activity to proper law enforcement authorities,” Hines said.
The emergency Area Closure Order and Fire Restriction Order is available on the Forest Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf or by calling (877) 864-6985.