Prescribed burns could start this week

Kaibab National Forest fire managers plan to begin a post-monsoon prescribed fire program on the forest's Williams Ranger District as early as this week if weather conditions remain appropriate.

Fire managers hope to treat up to 20,089 acres in five project areas on the Williams Ranger District between now and this winter. This is an ambitious goal and will be dependent on weather, fuel conditions and fire resource availability. The goal of the prescribed fire program is to reduce the risk of high-intensity wildland fire and increase public and firefighter safety.

The five prescribed burns planned on the Williams Ranger District are as follows:

• City Prescribed Burn - Up to 2,235 acres are scheduled for treatment. The City Project area is located northwest of Williams on the north side of Interstate 40. When the City Prescribed Burn is implemented, smoke will be very visible from Williams and may settle into the community, especially during the overnight hours. The City Project is a large-scale thinning and burning project surrounding the city of Williams. The objectives of the project are to improve forest health conditions, reduce the risk of high-intensity wildland fire, and protect public and private resources in the project area.

• Marteen Prescribed Burn - Up to 2,185 acres are scheduled for treatment. The Marteen Project area is located between 10 and 15 miles northeast of Williams. The burn location is about three miles northwest of Sitgreaves Mountain. When the Marteen burn is implemented, smoke will likely be most visible from Spring Valley and Parks. The Marteen Project area has been treated with fire in the recent past. Maintenance burning is important in order to mimic natural fire return intervals and to re-establish fire's natural role in the ecosystem.

• Kendrick Prescribed Burn; Up to 1,700 acres are scheduled for treatment. The Kendrick Project area is located between two and four miles northwest of Kendrick Peak. The goal of the prescribed burning is to reduce the risk of high-intensity wildland fires by removing the thick layer of natural forest debris that has accumulated in the area.

• Beacon Prescribed Burn - Up to 1,169 acres are scheduled for treatment. The Beacon Project area is located about nine miles east of Williams and just south of I-40 near Oak Hill. When the Beacon burn is ignited, smoke and flames will be visible from I-40.

Residents in Pittman Valley and Sherwood Forest Estates will likely be able to see and smell smoke, especially during the overnight hours when smoke tends to settle into drainages. The goal of the prescribed burning is to clean up thinning slash and reduce the risk of wildland fire. Slash in the area was left following thinning treatments that began in 2001. Following thinning, some larger material was removed from the site, but most of the smaller trees and branches were cut up and spread across the landscape - a technique known as lopping and scattering.

Prescribed burning is intended to clean up much of this leftover material, as well as returning fire to its natural role in the ecosystem.

• Twin Prescribed Burn - Up to 12,800 acres are scheduled for treatment. The Twin project area is located along the south, east and west sides of Bill Williams Mountain. When the Twin burn is implemented, smoke will be visible from I-40 and Williams. Smoke may settle into the Williams community, especially in the subdivisions just south of Williams along County Highway 73.

Goals of burning in the project area include reducing the risk of high-intensity wildland fire and preventing the spread of wildland fire onto private property and into the city of Williams watershed. Treating this area is a high priority because of its proximity to both private land and Bill Williams Mountain and because of the unnaturally dense forest conditions.

For more information about the prescribed fire program on the Kaibab National Forest, please contact Jackie Denk at (928) 635-8314.

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