PHOENIX, March 2, 2018—. Tonto National Forest fire specialists will continue to conduct prescribed fire treatments on approximately 1,566 acres in areas north of Payson, starting on Monday, March 5, and continuing through Friday, March 9, 2018. The treatment areas are located north of Payson, northwest of Whispering Pines, and southwest of Verde Glen.
The prescribed fire treatments are designed to maintain the thinning conducted over the last decade to improve the health of the forest. The burn will eliminate timber slash, dead and down woody debris, grass and brush.
Residents and visitors to the area can expect to see and smell light-to-moderate amounts of smoke during the five-day prescribed fire operation. Smoke will impact the communities of Rim Trail, Verde Glen, Washington Park, and Whispering Pines. At night, smoke may impact additional areas including Beaver Valley, Flowing Springs and East Verde Estates. Fire operations will end by 3:00 p.m. each day to mitigate the impact of smoke, although residual smoke may linger in these areas through Sunday, March 11, 2018.
Signs will be posted along roads that are likely to be affected by smoke, including the Control Road 64, and forest roads 32 and 1195. Motorists are urged to use caution while driving through these areas and slow down for the safety of firefighters and the public.
Prescribed fire treatments always depend on suitable conditions including temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, and fuel moisture content before ignitions commence. Tonto National Forest officials use the most recent weather reports to plan potential burning windows in an effort to provide advance information to the public. However, weather conditions can change rapidly, which can cause the Tonto National Forest to change or cancel burn plans.
The Mogollon Rim is a fire-adapted landscape and ecosystem that needs fire to create conditions for many plant and animal species to survive and flourish. Prescribed fire is an essential component in Payson’s long-range, far-reaching, landscape-scale, three –pronged fuels reduction strategy being carried out since 2001. These burns are closely monitored in order to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire danger, initiate the restoration of natural ecological systems and landscapes, and to develop and foster sustainable forest conditions, watersheds and wildlife habitat. Aggressive suppression action is taken if the fire displays behavior that does not meet these resource management objectives.
Tonto fire specialists extend their appreciation to residents and property owners in the Payson area for their patience and understanding as they work to improve the health of the forest around Rim County communities. For information about prescribed fire and mechanical fuels reduction projects, call the Payson Ranger District at(928) 474-7900. Residents may also stay updated on Tonto prescribed fires at www.inciweb.nwcg.org/incident/4657/.