The Black Mesa Ranger District on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests received record rainfall this summer and fall. They are planning to conduct prescribed burns from October 13-December 31, 2015. The district plans to treat approximately 6,000 acres within the Rodeo-Chediski prescribed fire area south of Heber-Overgaard and around the Black Mesa Ranger District administrative site. Additionally, the district will treat up to 2,500 acres in the Nagel Area near Dutch Joe Ranch. The public will receive notifications when weather permits the district a window to burn.
Prescribed burning is a management tool to reduce the build-up of forest fuels and ground litter. Areas were prepared this summer, along with brushing and cleaning of roads and the construction of containment lines on the perimeter of the burn units.
Prescribed burning provides many benefits and is essential to maintaining healthy forest ecosystems. It provides habitat diversity, recycles plant nutrients into the soil and encourages new growth for a variety of plants used by wildlife and livestock. Prescribed burning of forest ground fuels also reduces the threat of large scale wildfire impacts to private lands.
Smoke management actions are also implemented near smoke sensitive areas such as towns and out-lying residential areas. Precautions will be taken to minimize the adverse effects of smoke on the local communities. Motorists are advised to drive safely when approaching areas where prescribed fire activities may limit visibility. Hikers and other recreationists should avoid trails where signs are posted to protect them from possible hazardous situations.
All prescribed burns are approved through the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) before ignition begins. The ADEQ monitors air quality and determines whether or not it will be a good day for smoke dispersion. Breaking larger burn areas into smaller acreages often limits the amount of smoke that impacts an area. Although smoke from prescribed fire can still be noticeable, it is usually for a shorter time and considerably less smoke than wildfires produce. If you are sensitive to smoke or have respiratory problems, stay indoors if possible. You can check the status for air quality at your location at: https://nmtracking.org/en/environ_exposure/fire-and-smoke/
Questions or concerns contact John Manthei, Black Mesa Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer at (928) 535-7300. Also, check out the ASNFs website at: www.fs.usda.gov/asnf