Favorable weather and wind conditions on Thursday are allowing Coconino National Forest firefighters to move forward with plans for large fire treatments, with the addition of a burn project near Apache Maid Mountain beginning on Friday.
Prescribed burns are conducted on days when the wind is strong enough to move the fire across the landscape under the prescription plan and also ventilate the area of smoke. Thus, the right amount of wind is necessary for all prescribed burn projects to be successful, and fire management officers ensure conditions are suitable by conducting test ignitions prior to the start of any burn projects.
The Peaks and Upper Beaver Creek (UBC) prescribed burn projects are slated to begin Thursday and continue through the week, with the UBC project lasting considerably longer due to its size. Plans have come together for the necessary aviation support to allow the Apache Maid project to begin Friday for several days.
Prescribed burns are one of the most effective tools available to resource managers for restoring fire-dependent ecosystems. These fire treatments mimic natural fires by reducing hazardous fuels accumulations, recycling nutrients, and increasing habitat diversity. Each prescribed burn is designed to meet specific objectives, which includes proactively protecting communities from the threat of extreme wildfires by reducing forest fuels.
Please visit A Better Way to Think About Wildland Fires for a informational video which explains the importance of prescribed fire and the part it plays in restoring forests to healthy conditions.
- When: Ignitions planned Thursday (April 22) for three to 10 days.
- Where: Flagstaff Ranger District. Approximately 15 miles north of Flagstaff, just northeast of the San Francisco Peaks. GPS: 35.405, -111.637
- Why: This treatment will provide for forest health and restoration in areas north of Forest Road 418, while protecting wilderness areas south of FR 418 and private land inholdings northeast of the project area.
- Size: 4,164 acres total.
- Duration: This burn is divided into seven separate blocks or sections that will be completed over three to 10 days, depending on weather conditions.
- Method/Type of Burn: Broadcast maintenance burn.
- Smoke Impacts: With southwest winds predicted, smoke should move northeast and be visible for many miles. Cooling temperatures in the evenings may cause smoke to settle in the low-lying areas surrounding the burn and along U.S. Highway 89 northeast of the mountains, as well as Deadman Wash.
- Closures/Restrictions: No roads or trails will be closed or restricted due to this burn, though Forest Road 413 and 773 may be impacted with increased firefighter traffic and smoke.
- Note: Firefighters plan to use aerial ignition techniques to accomplish larger burn acres in a smaller time. If not suitable, the blocks will be burned by hand.
Upper Beaver Creek Project
- When: Ignitions planned Thursday (April 22), potentially continuing through May 15.
- Where: Mogollon Rim Ranger District. Approximately 15 miles northwest of Clints Well, 2 miles east of Stoneman Lake. GPS: 34.763494, -111.437873
- Why: This treatment will provide for forest health and restoration while protecting many private land inholdings near the project area.
- Size: 13,000 acres total.
- Duration: This burn is divided into 15 separate blocks that will be completed over several weeks, depending on weather conditions.
- Method/Type of Burn: Broadcast maintenance burn.
- Smoke Impacts: With southwest winds predicted, smoke should move northeast and be visible for many miles. When burning adjacent to Lake Mary Road and for firefighter and motorist’s safety, firefighters will burn when wind conditions turn easterly, which will push the smoke west during those times. Smoke will likely drain down Jacks Canyon into Beaver Creek and could impact areas of Interstate 17 west of the burn. Cooling temperatures in the evenings may cause smoke to settle in the low-lying areas, and along Lake Mary Road surrounding the burn. Smoke could also settle in Rattlesnake Canyon, impacting the Village of Oak Creek, Stoneman Lake, and homes near Double Cabin Park.
- Closures/Restrictions: No roads or trails will be closed or restricted due to this burn, though firefighters will monitor conditions and work with ADOT if temporary closures become necessary.
- Note: Firefighters plan to use hand and aerial ignition techniques to accomplish larger burn acres in a smaller time.
Apache Maid Project
- When: Ignitions planned Friday (April 23), potentially continuing through May 5.
- Where: Red Rock Ranger District. Approximately 13 miles southeast of Sedona. GPS: 34.754450, -111.597867
- Why: This burn is part of a grassland restoration project that will improve forage for cattle and wildlife.
- Size: 4,018 acres total.
- Duration: This burn is divided into five separate blocks, with a goal to complete a block each day to finish the project over five days. All burns are dependent on weather conditions.
- Method/Type of Burn: Broadcast initial entry burn. Smoke will be very noticeable since this area has not had fire on the landscape in some time.
- Smoke Impacts: Daytime smoke impacts could include Lake Mary Road toward the east and the community of Stoneman Lake. Nighttime impacts could include the Village of Oak Creek, Rimrock, Montezuma Well, sections of I-17 where low areas cross the Interstate, and Camp Verde.
- Closures/Restrictions: Stoneman Lake road (Forest Road 213) could be impacted in short durations, and Forest Service patrols will be evaluating the need for short closures during the burn.
- Note: I-17 will be signed and coordination with ADOT will be ongoing. Night patrols on I-17 may be possible depending on where the smoke will settle overnight. This project will produce high volumes of smoke during ignitions, but the smoke output will be short lived.
Prescribed burns are always dependent upon weather and wind conditions, as well as approval from Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). The public can view approved prescribed burns on ADEQ’s website at smoke.azdeq.gov. Coconino National Forest burns begin with the designator “COF.”
Notifications of upcoming prescribed burns are provided regularly by news releases throughout the season and also by the following online resources: