(Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:30 a.m.) Beginning Monday, Coconino National Forest fire managers are planning to conduct prescribed burns north of Flagstaff in Hart Prairie, as well as continue efforts in the Upper Beaver Creek Project south of Happy Jack. Pending conditions, crews may continue burning Tuesday.
Hart Prairie Project – 600 acres Monday, divided into blocks of 325 and 275 acres, located north of Flagstaff, east of the San Francisco Peaks, west of Highway 180 and south of Forest Road 794. Smoke will be visible from Flagstaff and will disperse to the northeast across Hart Prairie and over the Peaks with the forecast winds. If winds become light, some residual smoke will drain south and west across Hwy 180 and toward the Bellemont area overnight.
Because Hart Prairie is at a higher elevation than Flagstaff, fuels in the area are just becoming dry enough to burn. Fire managers have been watching for this window of opportunity, where the area has sufficiently dried, green-up has yet to occur extensively, and other conditions are forecast to be ideal fur burning in Hart Prairie. These burns are a critical part of ongoing efforts to regenerate aspen which have been in decline, and to reduce the risk of a severe fire on the west side of the Peaks.
Upper Beaver Creek Project – 700 acres Monday located five miles south of Happy Jack, west of Lake Mary Road (Forest Highway 3). As the crow flies, this area is approximately 20 miles northeast of Camp Verde and 30 miles southeast of Flagstaff. Forecast winds will push the majority of smoke to the northeast, however, residual smoke will likely drain toward the Verde Valley overnight if winds become light. Smoke will be noticeable from Lake Mary Road during ignition.
All prescribed fire activity is dependent on personnel availability, weather – including winds and ventilation – and approval from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
Fire managers make every effort to minimize smoke impacts to the communities while continuing to address the critical need to reduce the risk of severe wildfires around those communities. Tactics to keep smoke impacts as minimal as possible include cancelling burns when conditions aren’t favorable, finding alternative uses for the debris in slash piles, timing ignitions to allow the majority of smoke time to disperse prior to settling overnight, and burning larger sections at a time when conditions are favorable to reduce the overall number of days smoke is in the area.
In addition, the Coconino National Forest coordinates prescribed fire plans with the partners of the Ponderosa Fire Advisory Council (which includes state and local fire departments), as well as neighboring forests, to reduce the impact of smoke on the communities.
The public can obtain additional prescribed fire information via the following:
- Prescribed Fire Hotline: (928) 226-4607
- Coconino National Forest Website
- Local Ranger Stations: Flagstaff Ranger District, (928) 526-0866; Red Rock Ranger District (Sedona) (928-) 203-2900; Mogollon Rim Ranger District (Blue Ridge) (928) 477-2255.
(Source: Coconino National Forest)