(Posted June 20, 2012, at 12:02 p.m.) Public safety concerns due to drought conditions, hot temperatures, and increased fire danger have resulted in two temporary area closures on the Tonto National Forest beginning at 8 a.m., Thursday, June 21. The area closures are within the following boundaries:
1. All National Forest System Lands, roads and trails described as follows: Beginning at Forest Road 708 at the Fossil Springs Trailhead thence proceeding southeasterly along the power line corridor following the Mazatzal Wilderness Boundary; thence easterly along the power line corridor to the junction of Forest Trail 540 (FT540); thence easterly and southeasterly along the power line corridor to the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park; thence easterly along Forest System Road 583 to State Highway 87; thence southerly following State Highway 87 to the Intersection with State Highway 260; thence easterly along State Highway 260 to the junction of the Colcord Road (Forest Road 291); thence easterly and southerly along FR 291 to Forest Road 512; thence northerly along FR 512 to the Forest boundary at the top of the Mogollon Rim; thence westerly along the Mogollon Rim and Tonto National Forest Boundary to the Fossil Springs Trailhead at Forest Road 708.
2. All National Forest System Lands, roads and trails within the Mt Ord, Four Peaks and Three Bar Wildlife Area, more specifically described as follows: bounded by Highway 87 on the west beginning at the intersection with Forest System Road 143; thence northerly along the eastern edge of State Highway 87 to the intersection with State Highway 188; thence southerly along the western edge of Highway 188 to the Salt River corridor; thence westerly along the north side of the Salt river corridor including the north shores of Apache Lake, Canyon Lake and Saguaro Lake to Cottonwood Creek; thence northerly along Cottonwood creek to the intersection with Forest System Road 401; continuing northerly on Forest System Road 401 to the intersection with Forest System Road 143; thence westerly on Forest System Road 143 terminating at the intersection with State Highway 87.
Tonto National Forest area closures, June 20, 2012
Forest System Road 583 from State Highway 87 will remain open for access to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. The Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery operated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department will be closed for public access.
State Highway 87, State Highway 260, and State Highway 188 are open.
County roads through the Tonto National Forest remain OPEN unless the road is specifically closed by the agency managing that road; all National Forest System roads and trails within the described area are closed.
Exemptions to area closures are:
Owners and lessees of private lands within the boundaries of the described areas.
Persons accessing the RV Dump site on the west side of State Highway 188 at Cholla Bay.
“These area closures are to provide for firefighter and public safety during the extreme fire danger currently being experienced in Central Arizona,” stated Helen Graham, Acting Fire Staff Officer for the forest. “These precautionary measures are intended to enhance our visitors’ quality recreation experiences. Most areas of the Tonto National Forest remain available for recreation activity, including all the Salt River system lakes.”
Graham concluded: “We continue to remind the public that all fireworks are prohibited on the forest at all times, and right now, under our current restrictions, target-shooting is prohibited throughout the forest.”
Violation of these restrictions is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for individuals, $10,000 for organizations, and imprisonment for up to six months.
Forest Service officials continue to remind the public that wildfire potential conditions are extreme on the forest and that elevated fire restriction are in place. No fireworks are allowed on the forest at any time.
For statewide road conditions and closures please go to http://www.az511.gov/ or dial 5-1-1 from any landline or mobile phone from anywhere in Arizona. From outside Arizona, dial 1-888-411-ROAD (7623) or 602-523-0244.
For more information regarding forest recreation sites and fire restrictions, please contact the Tonto National Forest at (602) 225-5200, or check online at www.fs.usda.gov/tonto
(source: Tonto National Forest)