The Forest Service is taking advantage of favorable weather conditions to burn vegetative debris piles in the Tonto Creek area 15 miles northeast of Payson.
Tonto National Forest fire specialists will begin eliminating 98 acres of piles in the Tonto Creek Estates area beginning Monday, July 31, through Friday, August 4, 2017. The scheduled burns are a continuation of prescribed fire treatments in the area that took place July 26-27, 2017.
During the day, smoke will impact the Tonto Fish Hatchery and the communities Zane Grey and Tonto Creek Estates. Residual smoke in the evening hours will impact Tonto Creek Estates, Kohls Ranch and Bear Flat, and may linger in these areas through Sunday, August 6.
Residents and visitors to these areas can expect to see and smell moderate-to-heavy amounts of smoke at times during these operations. Fire specialists will terminate ignitions by 3 p.m. each day to minimize the impact of smoke. Signs will be posted on roads likely to be affected by smoke. Forest Service officials urge motorists to use caution and slow down while driving Forest Service Road 289 near Tonto Creek Estates for the safety of the public and firefighters.
Prescribed fires give land managers the option of treating areas with fire under favorable conditions. This helps to protect the natural and cultural resources, while decreasing danger to the public and firefighters. The growth, rate of spread, and smoke from a prescribed fire treatment is closely monitored. Aggressive suppression actions are taken if the fire displays behavior that does not meet resource management objectives.
In 2001, the Payson Ranger District began implementation of a long-range, fuels reduction strategy. The goal is to reduce catastrophic wildfire danger in Rim Country, to initiate the restoration of natural ecological systems, and to develop and foster sustainable forest conditions, wildlife habitat, and watersheds.