Because of recent rain, Kaibab National Forest fire managers were not able to conduct the prescribed burns they had planned for this week. But, conditions for ignition look to improve next week, so firefighters are preparing to conduct prescribed burns in two locations on the Williams Ranger District and two locations on the Tusayan Ranger District.
Williams Ranger District
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 Interstate 40 near Oak Hill. When the Beacon Burn is ignited, smoke and flames will be visible from I-40. Residents in Parks, Pittman Valley, Pineaire 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 high-intensity wildfire. 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 most noticeable from the subdivisions south of Williams along County Highway 73. Goals of burning in the project area include reducing the risk of high-intensity wild land fire and preventing the spread of wild land 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.
Tusayan Ranger District
Tusayan East Prescribed Burn: About 250 acres are scheduled for treatment. The Tusayan East project area is located just east of the community of Tusayan. The area will be burned in small blocks due to the proximity to the community.
Fire managers will be looking for good ventilation conditions so that smoke will move up and away from the community as quickly as possible. Objectives of the Tusayan East burn are to increase protection to the Tusayan community, reduce hazardous fuels and the potential for undesirable fire behavior, stimulate the growth of native grasses and forbs, protect older trees, and enhance wildlife habitat.
Tusayan South Prescribed Burn: Up to 750 acres are scheduled for treatment. The Tusayan South project area is located just west of state Highway 64 and south of Grand Canyon National Park Airport. Fire managers will be looking for days with minimal winds or winds from the north in order to avoid smoke impacts to Tusayan and the airport. However, when the burn is ignited, light haze from smoke is possible across state Highway 64.
The purpose of the Tusayan South burn is to reduce fire risk in the wild land-urban interface zone, the area where forest and community meet.
Work on the Tusayan East and South burns is expected to be ongoing for the next several weeks. Within that time, fire managers will select days to burn based on weather conditions and the desire to reduce smoke impacts to the local community.
For more information, please contact Jackie Denk at (928) 635-8314. For information about smoke provided by the Coconino County Health Department, please visit www.coconino.az.gov/health.aspx?id=6564.