Fire managers at Saguaro National Park plan to conduct a prescribed burn on Mica Mountain in the Saguaro Wilderness of the Rincon Mountain District (Saguaro East) this fall when conditions are favorable. The prescribed burn is currently planned for mid-late October.
The Mica Bowl Prescribed Burn area is divided into several burn units. Up to 280 acres may be treated with prescribed fire. Ignitions may continue for approximately three to five days. Fire managers will only conduct the prescribed burn when environmental factors such as wind, temperature, and relative humidity are favorable. Additional information, including a map and updates will be posted on https://www.nps.gov/sagu/learn/nature/fire-updates.htm.
The following backcountry trails will be closed during prescribed burn operations: Bonita, Spud Rock (between the junctions of Mica Mountain and Fire Loop), Mica Mountain, Mica Meadow, Fire Loop (between the junctions of Heartbreak Ridge and Italian Spring), and the Arizona Trail / Fire Loop (between the junctions of Spud Rock and Italian Spring). Arizona Trail hikers should plan for temporary delays, however fire managers will escort Arizona Trail hikers through the Arizona Trail / Fire Loop (between the junctions of Spud Rock and Italian Springs) when it is safe to do so.
Availability at the backcountry Manning Camp campground will be limited during the prescribed burn.
Due to the location of the burn on the highest peak of the Rincon Mountains, smoke will be visible from Tucson, Redington Pass, Benson, and Happy Valley during the prescribed burn. Smoke may temporarily drift downhill overnight in the Redington, Rincon Creek, and San Pedro River Valley drainages.
Smoke is expected to be present on the backcountry trails in the Mica Mountain area for at least a week or until significant precipitation occurs. Campers at the Mica Mountain and Spud Rock campgrounds should expect moderate to heavy smoke, especially during the early morning hours for three to five days following ignitions.
Vegetation in the area is predominately ponderosa pine. Elevation in the area ranges from approximately 7,950 to 8,670 feet. Lightning-ignited fires have historically burned through the high elevation ponderosa pine forests of southeastern Arizona, but past fire suppression has created unnatural conditions with build-ups of downed trees and dense underbrush in many places. Fire managers use low to moderate intensity prescribed fires to maintain healthy forests in the Rincon Mountains and to prevent large intense wildfires.