Fire Specialists from the Tonto National Forest will begin prescribed fire treatments in areas around Payson beginning Monday, Nov. 30. If conditions are favorable, a 222-acre treatment will be ignited in the Gordon Canyon, 13 Ranch, and Colcord Cove areas. During the day, smoke will move northeast up and over the Mogollon Rim toward Al Fulton Point. Residual smoke in the evening will move down Gordon Canyon and Haigler Creek toward Tonto Basin. Smoke may linger in the area through Sunday, Dec. 6.
Starting on Tuesday, Dec. 1, fire specialists will begin a 1,400- acre treatment in the Naegelin Canyon area. During the day, smoke will move northeast up and over the OW Ranch and any lingering smoke in the evening will move down the Cherry Creek Drainage. Burn activities will continue through Friday, Dec. 4, and smoke may linger in the area through Sunday, Dec. 6.
Fire specialists will also begin a 600-acres broadcast fire treatment in and around the Ponderosa Campground, east of Payson, on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 3 and 4. During the day smoke will impact Thompson Draw I and II, and in the evening smoke will drift over Kohls Ranch, Bear Flat, Little Green Valley, and Thompson Draw I and II. Motorists are asked to slow down and be especially careful in the area of State Route 260 and the Forest Road 405 intersection during evening hours. Residual smoke may linger in the area through Monday, Dec. 7.
Residents and visitors to these areas can expect to see and smell moderate-to-heavy amounts of smoke at times during these operations. Fire Managers will terminate ignitions by 3 p.m. each day during fire operations to minimize the impact of smoke. Signs will be posted on roads likely to be affected by smoke. Motorists are urged to caution while driving through these areas, and to 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 an RX 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.