Prescribed burn season begins, three areas announce treatment

ARIZONA — Three prescribed burns areas have been announced for northern Arizona, covering areas in the Tusayan Ranger District, Williams District in Kaibab National Forest and Jacob Lake.

Prior to starting firing operations, North Zone fire effects crew monitors prepare a balloon for a PIBAL operation during Moquitch 4 prescribed fire, June 22, 2015, Southwestern Region, Kaibab National Forest | Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, David Hercher, St. George News
Prior to starting firing operations, North Zone fire effects crew monitors prepare a balloon for a monitoring operation during Moquitch 4 prescribed fire. Southwestern Region, Kaibab National Forest, June 22, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, David Hercher, St. George News

During prescribed fires, community members and visitors may see fire personnel and vehicles in the vicinity. Smoke may also be present and may result in short-duration impacts to populated areas.

“Understanding that smoke is often not a popular trade-off for having a healthy forest in a fire-adapted ecosystem, part of our goal is to get the word out to people in our local communities as soon as possible and limit our operations to times when smoke has the best chance of dispersing,” said North Zone Fuels Specialist Dave Robinson.

Prescribed burns reduce hazardous fuels and increase ecosystem health and forest resiliency.

Implementation of prescribed fires is dependent on weather and fuel conditions, including winds, temperature, humidity, moisture of the vegetation and ventilation conditions for dispersal of smoke, as well as prior coordination with fire managers and personnel.

Visitors are reminded to use caution, drive slowly, turn on headlights and avoid stopping in areas where fire personnel are working.

Map of Kendrick prescribed burns planned for October 2015 | Image courtesy of Kaibab National Forest, St. George News
Map of Kendrick prescribed burns planned for October 2015 | Image courtesy of Kaibab National Forest, St. George News | Click map to enlarge

Tusayan Ranger District

Up to 6,000 acres have been announced for possible prescribed burns by fire managers for the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest. The area could be treated across the district as long as weather and fuel conditions allow.

Areas that could be treated are the following:

  • Tusayan East prescribed fire | East of Tusayan, approximately 260 acres
  • Russell prescribed fire | Two burn units southeast of Tusayan, approximately 1,700 acres
  • Flying J prescribed fire | Two burn units west of Tusayan, approximately 300 acres
  • Reed prescribed fire | Four burn units east of Tusayan, approximately 3,700 acres

All prescribed burning on the Kaibab National Forest is subject to approval by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and appropriate weather conditions.

Map of McCracken prescribed burns planned for October 2015 | Image courtesy of Kaibab National Forest, St. George News
Map of McCracken prescribed burns planned for 2016 | Image courtesy of Kaibab National Forest, St. George News | Click map to enlarge

Kaibab National Forest, Williams District

Up to about 12,500 acres could be treated across the district, beginning in January 2016 and continuing throughout the year as long as weather and fuel conditions allow.

Areas that could be treated include the following:

  • McCracken East prescribed fire | Three burn units southeast of Williams, approximately 850 acres
  • McCracken West prescribed fire | Southeast of Williams, approximately 1,700 acres
  • Twin South prescribed fire | South of Williams, approximately 300 acres
  • Dutch Kid Knoll prescribed fire | Southwest of Williams, approximately 4,100 acres
  • Dutch Kid Hat Tank prescribed fire | Southwest of Williams, approximately 100 acres
  • Dutch Kid East Loop prescribed fire | South of Williams, approximately 1,000 acres
  • Newman Hill prescribed fire | Northeast of Williams, approximately 900 acres
  • Kendrick prescribed fire | 11 burn units northeast of Williams, approximately 3,400 acres

All prescribed burning on the Kaibab National Forest is subject to approval by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and appropriate weather conditions.

Map of Kendrick prescribed burns planned for October 2015 | Image courtesy of Kaibab National Forest, St. George News
Map of Kendrick prescribed burns planned for October 2015 | Image courtesy of Kaibab National Forest, St. George News | Click map to enlarge

Jacob Lake

North Zone fire managers plan to commence the 2015 prescribed fire season by initiating ignitions in the Moquitch 4 project area.

The Moquitch 4 burn unit is located approximately 6 miles south of Jacob Lake and is bound by Forest Service Road 217 and dozer line on the east, FR 282 on the west, FR 260 on the north and FR 212 on the south.

Mainly comprised of ponderosa pine with scattered clumps of aspen and patches of New Mexico locust, this planned fuels treatment is intended to reduce hazardous fuel loads, improve wildlife habitat and stimulate aspen regeneration in the project area.

Fire managers began fuels treatments in this project area in June and, to date, have completed 96 acres of the 1,104 acre planning area. On Friday, fire managers started to target an additional 100 acres in the southern-most portion of this burn unit and continue working in a northerly direction throughout the following week until complete.

Smoke may be visible from the vicinity of Jacob Lake, Arizona, state Highway 67 and state Highway 89A.

Prior to igniting a prescribed burn, fire crew monitors use a pilot balloon, called a pibal, to construct a wind profile to determine wind direction and wind speed. If conditions are not appropriate to implement a prescribed fire treatment, operations are halted until conditions fall within established parameters.

“The documentation generated by our fire monitors is important in determining how we can improve forest health and also in measuring our compliance with various laws, our forest plan and burn plans to help ensure the quality of our air, our water and our reforestation efforts,” said North Kaibab District Ranger Randall Walker.

In addition to conducting pibal operations, fire effects crew monitors also measure, monitor and document the effects of fuels treatment projects during implementation.

Resources

  • Kaibab National Forest fire information is available online; by calling 928-635-8311; texting ‘follow kaibabnf’ to 40404; or through Twitter
  • Arizona Department of Environmental Quality website

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