Tonto National Forest officials have modified the Bush Fire public safety area closure order to allow more access. The modified closure order will be in effect Thursday, Nov. 25, 8 a.m.
The closure area is being modified in response to cooler temperatures and reduced fire danger. Moderate rainfall still has the potential to produce debris flows that could cause significant injury or death. Recreational users are encouraged to check weather conditions before venturing out into the forest. This order shall remain in effect until March 15, 2021, or until rescinded, whichever occurs first.
Pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 551 and 36 C.F.R. § 261.50(a) and (b), the following acts are prohibited within the “Restricted Area” on the roads and trails described in the Order:
1. Going into or being upon the Restricted Area. 36 C.F.R. § 261.53(e).
2. Being upon the trail. 36 C.F.R. § 261.55(a).
3. Being on the road. 36 C.F.R. § 261.54(e).
“We cautiously modified the closure order to allow more access to the public, but public safety remains a priority and the process of reopening these severely burned areas takes time,” said Acting Forest Supervisor Tom Torres. “We wish our visitors and the communities that surround the forest a very happy Thanksgiving holiday.”
This expanded access includes the popular Rolls OHV area. While the area is reopening to the public, there are areas in the Rolls that were affected by the Bush Fire. Visitors are advised to stay on established routes and to exercise caution around burnt vegetation. The area will also have increased flash flood potential for the foreseeable future.
The Rolls OHV area is an 4x4/OHV area with routes of varied difficulty through Sonoran Desert ecosystem. Many miles of roads are available to explore, but most require a high-clearance 4x4 or OHV (ATV/UTV). Access will be available from the Fours Peaks turn off on State Road 87 and the Pobrecito Recreation site. Butcher Jones Beach and Recreation area will also be open for use. Access to Cottonwood Wash and the Four Peaks Wilderness area to include NFSR 143 to Tonto Basin and NFSR 401 are still closed due to flooding hazards from the Bush Fire.
Further information regarding this order may be obtained by contacting the Mesa Ranger Station at (480) 610-3300 or to view the order visit the Tonto National Forest alerts and notices webpage at https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/tonto/alerts-notices. This order supersedes any previous orders prohibiting the same acts covered by this order.
This year firefighters battled approximately 156 wildfires on the Tonto National Forest that burned over 300,000 acres. Nationally, nearly nine out of ten wildfires are human-caused. With no rain in sight, high fire danger continues on the Tonto National Forest. Information about preventing human-caused wildfires is available on the Smokey Bear website. Visit the Tonto National Forest website for the latest news and alerts: https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/tonto/home.