PRESS RELEASE: Prescribed burns planned on Coconino NF this week



FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., May 30, 2023 – The Coconino National Forest plans to continue work on two prescribed burn projects this week that will help restore healthier conditions to the forest and fire-dependent ecosystems.

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Prescribed burns will be canceled if weather conditions – such as temperature, wind or humidity – do not meet the criteria outlined in the burn plans.

Horseshoe Burn project:

  • When: Wednesday, May 31.
  • Where: Located on the Flagstaff Ranger District 14 miles north of Flagstaff, north of the San Francisco Peaks(35°24’26.2″N 111°39’13.2″W). See “Block 7” of the FRD Horseshoe Rx burn map.
  • Why: As part of the Wildfire Crisis Strategy, this burn will reintroduce fire into a fire-dependent ecosystem to help maintain forest fuels and help reduce the risk of severe wildfires in the area.
  • Size: 1,089 acres.
  • Method/Type of Burn: Broadcast maintenance burn. Maintenance burns usually mean wildfire has recently been through the area, which tends to mean less smoke since forest fuels will not be as thick or built up over time. Initial entry burns mean wildfire has not been through the area in a very long time and thus results in thicker smoke due to a large amount of forest fuels being present that must be burned.
  • Duration: This burn is planned for one day.
  • Smoke Impacts: Relatively light smoke should travel to the northeast. Impacts along U.S. Highway 89 should be mostly light but could be moderate during the early morning hours Wednesday.
  • Closures/Restrictions: There are no anticipated road or trail closures.

Sawmill Burn project:

  • When: Wednesday, May 31 through Thursday, June 1.
  • Where: Approximately 6 miles southeast of Mormon Lake, east of Hutch Mountain (34°52’40.5″N 111°21’17.9″W). See Sawmill Rx Vicinity map for details.
  • Why: As part of the Wildfire Crisis Strategy, this burn will reintroduce fire into a fire-dependent ecosystem to help maintain forest fuels and help reduce the risk of severe wildfires in the area.
  • Size: 4,000 acres.
  • Method/Type of Burn: Broadcast maintenance burn.
  • Duration: This burn is planned for two days.
  • Smoke Impacts: Smoke will generally travel northeast and may settle in the Kinnikinick Lake area as well as further east in the Long Lake area. If east winds are present smoke may settle between Lake Mary Road and Winslow, as well as south of Interstate 40.
  • Closures/Restrictions: There are no anticipated road or trail closures.

Prescribed burn information can always be accessed in several ways:

Prescribed burns are always dependent upon weather and wind conditions, as well as approval from Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). The public can view approved prescribed burns on ADEQ’s website at smoke.azdeq.gov. Coconino NF burns begin with the designator “COF.”

During prescribed burns, smoke will be visible from several areas across the forest. Please refrain from contacting dispatch or 911 to report prescribed burn smoke so lines can remain open for emergencies.

The Forest Service’s 10-year Wildfire Crisis Strategy aims to increase prescribed burning and other treatments across the landscape to improve forest resiliency for generations to come. With that work comes more smoke which can have an impact on both the public and our responders.

We recognize that smoke impacts can affect residents and visitors in addition to our fire personnel. We will continue to coordinate closely with partners and communities to keep people informed about projects and potential smoke. Affected communities can learn more at airnow.gov.

Prior to conducting prescribed burns, the Coconino NF follows steps outlined in the agency-wide National Prescribed Fire Review. These steps include items such as validating and updating prescribed burn plans with the most recent science and modeling, incorporating new drought monitoring data, ensuring the patrol plan and long-term patrol strategy is documented and communicating with and involving landowners, cooperators, elected officials and partners as we implement prescribed fires.

Prescribed burns are an important part of maintaining forest health. For more information on why prescribed burns are conducted and how they benefit the landscape and help protect communities, please visit our Prescribed Fire and Forest Health webpage

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