The Tonto National Forest will continue conducting prescribed fire treatments in areas around Payson starting on Tuesday, August 28. Current weather conditions are providing an opportunity to burn vegetative debris piles in the Tonto Creek area 15 miles northeast of Payson. Tonto National Forest fire specialists will begin eliminating 74 acres of piles in the Tonto Creek Estates area beginning Tuesday, August 28 through Friday, August 31, 2018.
During the day, smoke will impact the Tonto Fish Hatchery and the communities of Zane Grey and Tonto Creek Estates over the three-day operation. Residual smoke in the evening hours will impact Tonto Creek Estates, Kohls Ranch and Bear Flat. Residual smoke may linger in these areas through Monday, September, 1, 2018.
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 11 a.m. each day to minimize the impact of smoke, and signs will be posted on roads likely to be affected. Motorists are urged to use caution and slow down while driving Forest Road 289 near Tonto Creek Estates 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. Pile burns 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.
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.