Update May 22, 2017: Due to unexpected hotter and drier weather conditions, the Whitcom prescribed burn on the Lakeside Ranger District has bee cancelled.
The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, Lakeside Ranger District plans to burn an additional 1,000 acres of the Whitcom prescribed burn area, weather permitting on Monday, May 22. Fire managers have successfully completed approximately 3,100 acres of the proposed project. The prescribed burn is within the Whitcom Unit which is located northeast of the community of Pinetop, along Forest Service Roads 182, 283, 283A and 185. The Country Club Trail will be impacted by the prescribed burn, north of Forest Service Road 185. Fire personnel advise that the public utilizes other trails for recreating during the duration of the prescribed burn for personnel safety.
Ignition may last several days, with daily smoke impact anticipated within area drainages. Smoke will be visible in the local area, from Arizona State Highway 260 and 77, U.S. Highway 60, and the towns of Pinetop – Lakeside, Vernon, McNary and Show Low. Motorists are advised to drive safely when approaching areas where prescribed fire activities may limit visibility and/or hinder fire personnel operations.
All prescribed burns are approved through the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) before ignition begins. The ADEQ monitors air quality and determines whether or not it will be a good day for smoke dispersion. Although smoke from prescribed fire can still be noticeable, it is usually for a shorter time and considerably less smoke than wildfires produce. If you are sensitive to smoke or have respiratory problems, stay indoors if possible.
Prescribed burning provides many benefits and is essential to maintaining healthy forest ecosystems. It provides habitat diversity, recycles plant nutrients into the soil and encourages new growth for a variety of plants used by wildlife and livestock. Prescribed burning of forest ground fuels also reduces the threat of large scale wildfire impacts to private lands. Prescribed burning in the Whitcom Unit will reduce logging slash that was left in parts of the unit during previous mechanical treatments. This will provide protection for the adjacent private land as well as the communities of Pinetop Country Club and Sky High Retreat.
Crews will be on scene from ignition until there is no longer a threat of escape from the project boundaries.
Questions or concerns contact the Lakeside Ranger District at (928) 368-2100 or by calling 311 or 928-333-3412. Also, check out our website at: www.fs.usda.gov/asnf