Prescribed fire

A prescribed burn in the wet, cool months will usually move through the brush and downed wood, thinning the forest, clearing out brush and actually enhancing the soil. It also reduces the odds of a crown fire, which can sear the soil, cause dangerous flooding and create the kinds of long-range ember storms that have destroyed whole towns in California this year.

Fire specialists plan to burn 210 acres of vegetative debris piles Wednesday through Friday, Jan. 29-31 about nine miles north of Payson near Shadow Rim Girl Scout Ranch.

Residents and visitors to the area can expect to see and smell light-to-moderate amounts of smoke during the three-day operation.

Besides the burn area, smoke will impact Shadow Rim, Verde Glen, and Rim Trail during the day.

In the evening, smoke will impact Whispering Pines and Beaver Valley. Residual smoke may linger in these areas through Sunday, Feb. 2.

To minimize smoke impacts, fire personnel will end ignitions by 3 p.m. each day.

Crews will post signs on roads likely affected by smoke. They urge motorists to use caution when driving through the area.

Fire provides managers the option of treating areas with favorable conditions, which helps to protect natural and cultural resources, while decreasing danger to the public and firefighters. These burns enhance range, watershed, and wildlife habitat.

Tonto officials received permission to conduct prescribed fire burns in the area despite the ongoing legal matter involving a court-ordered injunction on select timber management activities for New Mexico national forests as well as the Tonto National Forest regarding potential effects to the Mexican spotted owl.

Prescribed fires always are dependent on the right weather and are closely monitored.

Contact the editor at abechman@payson.com

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