The Tonto National Forest will conduct prescribed fire treatments in areas around Payson starting on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. Recent snowfall is providing an opportunity to burn vegetative debris piles in the Long and Mead ranch areas and Bonita Creek.
Tonto National Forest fire specialists will eliminate 136 acres of piles in the Long and Mead ranch areas beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19, through Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. During the day, smoke will impact the communities of Long and Mead ranches during the four-day operation. Residual smoke in the evening hours will impact Long and Mead ranch areas, Tonto Creek, the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery, Kohls Ranch, Bear Flats, and Tonto Village. Residual smoke may linger in these areas through Sunday, January, 24, 2016.
Fire specialists will also begin eliminating 178 acres of vegetative debris piles in the Bonita Creek area on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 21and 22, 2016. Smoke will impact Bonita Creek, Ellison Creek, and the La Cienega ranch areas during the day. Residual smoke in the evening hours will impact Bonita Creek, Whispering Pines, and Beaver Valley. Smoke may linger in these areas through Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016.
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. Motorists are urged to use caution and slow down while driving through these areas and slow down for the safety of the public and firefighters.
Prescribed fire treatments are always dependent on conditions such as wind speed and direction, temperature, relative humidity, fuel moisture content, and other variables. Broadcast treatments typically continue for several days and are conducted when fuel moisture content of the vegetation and weather conditions are favorable. Low-to-moderate winds are needed to carry flames and to dissipate smoke during and after ignition operations and to achieve beneficial effects sought by land managers.
Prescribed fire gives land managers the important option of treating areas with fire under favorable conditions, which 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 far-reaching, long-range, landscape-scale, three-pronged fuels reduction strategy. The achievable 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.