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Thu, April 02

Prescribed fire planned for area south of Bill Williams Mountain

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - In order to protect the city of Williams' watershed, fire managers on the Kaibab National Forest will carry out prescribed burning operations south of Bill Williams Mountain this week.

The Twin South Mountain project area is about 621 acres in size and is located six miles south of Williams on the southern base of Bill Williams Mountain. The area is immediately north of Forest Road 122, also known as Twin Springs Road.

"This on-going effort to remove accumulated hazardous fuels is part of the multi-dimensional process of accelerated forest restoration taking place over time," according to a press release from the Kaibab National Forest.

Officials expect smoke impacts to be light to moderate with smoke visible from Williams, Interstate 40, State Route 89 and County Road 73.

In the last two weeks, fire managers have also carried out prescribed fire operations in four other areas to promote forest health.

Officials treated 984 acres in the City Southeast area four miles southeast of Williams along County Road 73, 306 acres in the Frenchy Tracks area two miles east of Sherwood Forest Estates, 706 acres in the Kendrick Beale area eight miles northeast of Parks and 679 acres in the McCracken East area five miles southeast of Williams on the east side of County Road 73.

Fire Information Officer Mark Thibodeau said the Forest Service used a type of burn called a broadcast burn in the four project areas.

"They just literally put fire on the ground throughout the whole area, so it's broadcast throughout the whole area," he explained.

Although the window for broadcast burns will likely close in the coming weeks, Thibodeau said the winter weather won't prevent other types of controlled burns like pile burning.

"So we can continue reducing the fuels in the forest throughout the off season and keep operations going," he said.

The acreage treated in the last two weeks is part of the 12,700 acres of prescribed fire planned on the Williams Ranger district during the 2014-2015 season. The actual acreage treated may be less, depending on conditions.

Conditions include correct temperature, wind, fuel moisture, ventilation, and relative humidity. When these criteria are met, crews implement, monitor, and patrol each burn to ensure it meets the goals and objectives outlined by fire managers.

Key goals for prescribed fire include continuing efforts to improve forest health, enhance public safety, and return fire to a fire-adapted ecosystem. Additionally, prescribed fire lowers the risk of severe wildfires on the forest during critical summer fire conditions by reducing litter, debris, and dense stands of trees.

"Prescribed fires are essential to the accelerated restoration of watersheds, grasslands and forests in our fire-adapted ecosystem," Thibodeau said. "These fires help to reduce hazardous fuels, recycle nutrients back into the soil, and increase wildlife and plant diversity."

More information about prescribed fire is available at (928) 635-8311 or www.inciweb.nwcg.gov.

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