Coconino County Public Works, in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service
(USFS), has ignited the annual green waste burn at the Willard Springs Transfer Station located
17 miles south of Flagstaff at Exit 326 on the west side of I-17. This is USFS’s first burn since the COVID-19 pandemic began last winter.
The Willard Springs green waste burn is expected to produce smoke during its ignition period
that will last for approximately three weeks. Based on wind and weather conditions, this smoke
may be heavy at times and visible to motorists on I-17. The Coconino National Forest plans to
post signage on I-17 as necessary to notify motorists about smoke from the burn and to drive
The burn is necessary to reduce the existing stockpile of pine needles, tree trimmings and other
green waste at Willard Springs before the start of the 2021 fire season. Since the transfer
station opened for free green waste-only disposal last April, a record 30,000 cubic yards of
green and woody waste have been deposited by residents and collected through specialty
events like the Bear Jaw Community Cleanup and the County’s annual Community Cleanup
Days. This is almost triple the amount the station normally receives in a year. Willard Springs
will remain open for the free deposit of green waste until 5 p.m. this Saturday, November 14.
The green waste burn is expected to smolder until late winter depending on weather
conditions. It will be monitored by the Mormon Lake Ranger Station, Pinewood Fire
Department and the Coconino County Public Works Solid Waste Division. Public Works Solid
Waste Division also will be regularly stirring the green waste piles throughout the process to
promote a homogenous, even burn that will help to minimize smoke.
When smoke levels are high, the appropriate protective measures should be followed:
- Avoid breathing smoke if you can help it. Reduce or avoid outdoor activities.
- Make sure air conditioning/heating units have a clean filter in the air intakes. Devices with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters can reduce indoor pollution.
- Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner/heater in your home or car.
- Avoid activities which can increase indoor pollutants such as cooking and vacuuming.
People with pre-existing conditions should avoid exposure to the smoke as much as possible
and consult their physician if they have any questions or experience health issues. More
information regarding the health effect of smoke from prescribed burns and wildfires is
available at https://az-coconinocounty2.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/995. For more information, please contact Ron Hollamon, Coconino County Public Works Solid Waste Manager, at (928) 679-8300.