With the monsoon officially here, fire officials have rescinded Stage 3 fire restrictions on the Tonto National Forest and reopened the forest today.
As of 8 a.m. Friday, July 31, all closures, except for the Bush Fire burn area, have been lifted, and the forest is under Stage 1 fire restrictions.
Fire officials say they look at several things when changing restrictions, including weather, fuel moistures, fire activity and firefighting resources.
“The current monsoonal moisture has decreased fire danger levels to allow campfires and charcoal fires in developed campgrounds and picnic areas, but only in Forest Service rings and BBQs,” according to a press release. “Open fires in dispersed recreation areas remain prohibited.”
Under Stage 1 fire restrictions, the following are prohibited on all national forest system lands within the Tonto National Forest in Maricopa, Gila, Yavapai, and Pinal counties, Arizona:
• Igniting, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire other than in a developed campsite or picnic area.
• Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of any flammable material.
• Discharging a firearm, air rifle, or gas gun. Recreational target shooting remains prohibited however, legal hunting activities are permitted in areas not affected by a closure order.
• Cooking devices that are fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuel, that can be turned off immediately with no remaining burning material, may be used in areas devoid of vegetation.
On Thursday, the Department of Forestry and Fire Management lifted fire restrictions on some state lands.
Fire restrictions were lifted on state lands in Apache, Coconino — south of the Grand Canyon, Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, and Santa Cruz counties.
On Saturday, Arizona Forestry will also lift restrictions on state land in Yavapai County.
Also on Saturday, Aug. 1, the Town of Payson will be under Stage 1 fire restrictions, which include no open burning or recreational fires in town. Portable outdoor fireplaces and charcoal or wood fired barbecue cooking is allowed.
Restrictions remain in place on state lands within, Gila, La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave and Yuma counties, along with Coconino, north of the Grand Canyon.
“Typically, the arrival of the summer monsoon storms provides increased humidity, ample moisture, and cooler temperatures to help decrease fire activity,” according to a release. “State fire managers feel lackluster monsoon conditions in the central region warrant restrictions to stay in place longer, and until more ideal weather conditions are present.”
For more information on Tonto National Forest restrictions, and tips for responsible recreating, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/tonto.