The Memorial Day weekend is a popular time to visit campgrounds and picnic areas on the Tonto National Forest. While Tonto Forest Service offices will be closed on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, fire, recreation and law enforcement personnel will be on duty throughout the weekend to assist visitors, and provide for public safety.
The following tips will help visitors have a safe and enjoyable weekend on the Tonto National Forest.
Closures: The Pioneer Pass Recreation Area south of Globe remains closed due to bear activity. This includes Pioneer Pass Campground, and 200 yards on either side of National Forest System Road 112 starting at the north Pioneer Pass Recreation Area Sign and ending at the cattle guard located on National Forest System Road 112 near forest trails 196 and 214. Please visit www.fs.usda.gov/tonto or call the Globe Ranger District office at 928-402-6200 for additional information.
The Juniper Fire is burning in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness. There is a closure order in place which includes all National Forest System Lands, roads and trails to the east of State Highway 288 and to the west of Forest Road 203 (commonly referred to as the Cherry Creek Road). State Highway 288 and Cherry Creek Road remain open. Information regarding the Juniper Fire can be found at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4745/, and the closure order and map are located at http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd502611.pdf.
The Juniper Fire is burning near popular campgrounds along State Route 288. Heavy smoke and traffic delays along 288 south of Young, Arizona should be expected through the Memorial Day weekend. Campers are encouraged to plan their camping and recreation activities in sites north of Young, which can be reached without delays by traveling State Highway 87 (Beeline Highway) north to Payson, taking State Highway 260 east to Forest Road 512, and then south to Young. The community of Young is open for business, and minimally impacted by smoke.
Camping in Bear County: Campgrounds in the higher elevations of the Tonto National Forest are in bear country. Keep a clean camp and encourage bears to go elsewhere in search of food. Visit the Arizona Game and Fish website for additional tips https://www.azgfd.com/PortalImages/files/wildlife/livingwith/Living_with_Bears_lowres.pdf
One Less Spark Could Mean One Less Wildfire: For the first time in several years, there are no fire restrictions on the Tonto National Forest. Visitors to the Forest are being asked to be extra vigilant in preventing wildfires. The following tips will help prevent a wildfire while enjoying your public lands.
- Always carry a fire extinguisher, extra water and shovel, just in case a fire does start.
- Make sure your campfire is completely out. If your fire is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave. Pour water or dirt on your fire and stir with a shovel until the fire is cool to the touch. Use a gas stove if windy conditions are predicted.
- Don’t park or stop in tall grass or over small shrubs, where a spark or hot engine can start a fire.
- Make sure vehicles and tires are in good working condition, and safety chains and other trailer equipment are not dragging. Chains dragging on the road creates sparks and can cause fires.
- Make sure all motorized equipment, including chainsaws, all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles have approved spark arrestors to prevent a spark.
- Always discard cigarette butts in ashtrays inside a vehicle or building. Cigarettes can start fires long after they have been dropped or thrown away.
- Avoid shooting on hot, windy days, and be sure your target is free of dry grass and shrubs. Shooting at steel targets or rocks may throw sparks into dry grass and nearby brush. Use paper or clay targets to reduce the risk of sparks.
- The use of fireworks, explosives and exploding targets is always prohibited on public lands, as sparks can start a wildfire.
The Tonto National Forest is expected to be busy Memorial Day weekend. These safety tips will help you plan and enjoy your time outdoors.