As part of the Tonto National Forest’s ongoing strategy to restore the health of the landscape and reduce catastrophic wildfire danger in Rim County, fire specialists will conduct prescribed fire treatments on 758 acres south of Payson, starting on Monday, January 29, and continuing through Friday, February 2, 2018. The treatment areas are located south of the Payson Golf Course, north of Oxbow Estates, southwest of Granite Dells, south of Round Valley, and north of Jim Jones Shooting Range.
The prescribed fire treatments are designed to maintain fuel breaks that were created between 2004 and 2009 as a strategic line of defense for the town of Payson should a fire ignite south of town and get carried towards the northeast by prevailing southwest winds. The treatments will eliminate timber slash, dead and down woody debris, grass and brush.
Residents and visitors to the area can expect to see and smell light-to-moderate amounts of smoke during the five-day prescribed fire operation. Smoke will impact Payson, Star Valley, Round Valley, Oxbow Estates, Rye, Gisela, and Highway 87 during the day and into the evening. Fire Operations will end by 4:00 p.m. each day to mitigate the impact of smoke, although residual smoke may linger in these areas through Sunday, February 4, 2018. Signs will be posted along roads that are likely to be affected by smoke. Motorists are urged to use caution while driving through these areas and slow down for the safety of firefighters and the public.
Prescribed fire treatments always depend on suitable conditions including temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, and fuel moisture content before ignitions commence. The Mogollon Rim is a fire-adapted landscape and ecosystem that needs fire to create conditions for many plant and animal species to survive and flourish. Prescribed fire is an essential component in Payson’s long-range, far-reaching, landscape-scale, three –pronged fuels reduction strategy being carried out since 2001. These burns are closely monitored in order to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire danger, initiate the restoration of natural ecological systems and landscapes, and to develop and foster sustainable forest conditions, watersheds and wildlife habitat. Aggressive suppression action is taken if the fire displays behavior that does not meet these resource management objectives.
Tonto fire specialists extend their appreciation to residents and property owners in the Payson area for their patience and understanding as they work to improve the health of the forest around Rim County communities. For information about prescribed fire and mechanical fuels reduction projects, please call the Payson Ranger District at (928) 474-7900. Residents may also stay updated on Tonto prescribed fires at www.inciweb.nwcg.org/incident/4657/.