The Frye Fire Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) process has noted several success stories over the last two weeks. The massive wasting of rock and debris seems to have stabilized across most of the burned area. Although the monsoon rains were not present for most of the last week, a storm over Mt Graham deposited nearly an inch of rain Saturday night August 12, 2017. There was very little evidence of additional rock and debris flows on Sunday morning.
For Immediate Release. The Coronado National Forest and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) are working together to ensure the survival of the current highway bridge at Wet Canyon on SR-366 (Swift Trail). This highway is the only road access to the high country in the Pinaleno Mountains (Mt. Graham and other high-country areas). An active monsoon season has resulted in extreme flooding events from areas burned during the recent Frye Fire.
State Route 366 on Mount Graham in southeastern Arizona is closed until further notice because of safety concerns associated with flash floods and debris flows caused by the recent Frye Fire.
The road, also known as Swift Trail Parkway, closed at noon on Monday, July 31, at the Round the Mountain Trailhead and Picnic Area, milepost 121. The area is about 10 miles south of Safford.
The Noon Creek Picnic Area and Angle Orchard remain open to the public.
This past weekend road crews from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the Coronado National Forest worked together to remove debris from the Wet Canyon Recreation Site on the Swift Trail (State Highway 366). This past week several heavy storms moved a significant amount of woody debris and rock down Wet Canyon, effectively blocking flow under a historic CCC bridge and threatening the structure of the main road bridge. By Sunday evening enough debris had been removed to return the water flow to the original channel under the old bridge.
Over the past week the Frye Fire area has received a significant amount of rain. Several storms have left rainfall totals of two inches or more at the Arizona Department of Water Resource rain gauges at Heliograph Peak, and Pinaleno Park. These flows have produced movement of rock and debris in stream channels along the Swift Trail (Highway 366) which have washed over the roadway and damaged highway fill slopes in several locations.
Although the initial threat of the Frye Fire has passed, post-fire conditions are being assessed to recommend preventive treatments and emergency stabilization for fire related problems such as soil erosion from loss of vegetation; flooding from increased runoff; and increased sedimentation downstream which could have the potential to impact private property and public safety. This assessment is called a Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER).
A new closure order has been issued for the Pinaleño Mountains. For the complete text of the order and the associated map, go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd550498.pdfhh