The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management (DFFM) in conjunction with the Golder Ranch Fire District (GRFD) begin an expansive fuels reduction project in Pima County to reduce the threat of wildfire to the Catalina community. Starting the week of December 11, work begins on the 200-acre Spirit Dog project on State Trust Lands, to the east and south of Catalina. Spirit Dog is a multi-phase project, which includes the construction of two fuel breaks along with pile burning. Additionally, crews will work south of the community to remove stinknet, an invasive weed that intensifies wildfires and restricts Arizona’s native plant species from flourishing.
The first phase of the project consists of nearly 10 miles of hand thinned fuel breaks established along roads, adjacent to the southern and eastern edges of the community. Project managers designed the fuel breaks to neighbor roadways and the Catalina Regional Park. Fuel breaks are strips of land, and in this case, using DFFM hand crews to purposefully alter and
reduce vegetation to slow or control a fire. Project managers strategically positioned the fuel breaks to decrease the wildfire risk to Catalina and ultimately provide a safety net for its residents. Fuel breaks can also reduce a fire’s intensity and provide a safe working space for firefighter suppression efforts. The overall fuels treatment project includes the removal of dense trees, shrubs, and yucca. Along with the fuels work, Phase 1 also calls for invasive plant eradication on State Trust Lands on the east side of State Route 77 between Wilds and Rollins Roads. Work includes, hand crew operations along with the placement of herbicides.
Once crews finish Phase 1, the second phase of the project begins which includes pile burning along the fuel breaks, on the
southeast side of Catalina. Pile burning provides a more efficient and effective way to reduce leftover debris from the fuels
reduction work. DFFM and GRFD intend to notify the Catalina community prior to the prescribed fire implementation.
Project managers expect Phase 1 of Spirit Dog to take approximately seven months.