As the Safford Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest continues work on the Little Bull Prescribed Fire, a closure is now in effect to provide for public safety while prescribed burning is conducted place within the project area.
The closed area begins at the junction of Forest Road (FR) 159 and 169 on the northeast corner, then south along the Forest boundary excluding two private land inholdings, to FR 659, then west along (but not including) FR 659 to the junction of FR 660, including FR 660 west along a ridgeline to the intersection of Trail (TR) 287B, then north along the East Divide ridgeline including TR 287 to the junction of TR 287 and TR 290, then south and east along and including TR 290 back to FR 159, east along and including FR 159 to the junction of FR 669. The legal description is T10S R21E sections 19, 20, 29 through 32; T10S R20E sections 2, 10 through 15, 22 through 27, 34 through 36; T11S, R21E sections 4 through 7; T11S R20E sections 1, 2, 11, 12.
The following Forest roads will be closed: FR 159 from the junction of FR 669 to the west; FR 998 entire road; FR 660 from the junction of 659 to the east.
The following trails will be closed: TR 287B approximately one mile south of Bassett Peak to the junction of TR 287; TR 287 from the Ash Creek Trailhead north to the junction of TR 290; TR 290 from the High Creek Trailhead to the junction of TR 287.
The closure is in effect until April 30, 2018 unless it is rescinded at an earlier date.
The project includes approximately 9,000 acres of National Forest System lands in the southeastern portion of the Galiuro Mountains in southeastern Arizona, and is included in the Coronado’s Galiuro FireScape Project. Burning will be intermittent, with ignitions occurring as fuel and weather conditions become suitable this month.
Aerial ignitions are expected to begin this week. During these operations incendiary devices are dropped from a helicopter to ignite after landing on the ground. Aerial ignition allows burning in steep, remote areas that may be inaccessible or unsafe to work from the ground. It also allows prescribed fire personnel to control the location and intensity of burning.
The burn area boundaries lie between High Creek on the north and Ash Creek on the south and contain North and South Oak Creek drainages, including both wilderness and non-wilderness land in rugged terrain. Fire managers expect to complete burning while environmental and fuels conditions remain favorable for manageable fire activity.
Fire has played an important ecological role in the history of the grassland and woodland ecosystems of southeastern Arizona. Regular intervals of naturally-occurring fire restricted growth of shrubs in grasslands, thinned forests of fire-intolerant trees, increased stream flows, and renewed wildlife habitat. A decrease in the frequency of natural fire has resulted in areas of dense, overgrown vegetation and the accumulation of fuel available for wildfires.
The Little Bull Prescribed Fire is designed to reduce the accumulation of hazardous fuels, improve range and watershed conditions, improve wildlife habitat, return the ecosystem to a more fire-resilient state, and reduce the likelihood of future high-intensity wildfires within the project area. By reducing the probability of extreme fire behavior during future wildland fires, the intent is to subsequently reduce threats to firefighter and public safety as well as reduce costs and natural resource damage due to fires.
Smoke will be visible periodically from Sulphur Springs Valley and Bonita, Willcox, Benson, San Manuel, Klondyke and surrounding areas for the duration of the project.
For further information please contact the Safford Ranger District Office at (928) 428-4150 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The office is closed weekends and federal holidays.