Clint’s Well AZ (August 19, 2021) – A recently signed agreement between the Forest Service and State of Arizona will allow important and strategic forest thinning to begin on a vital watershed that supplies water to the Town of Payson and parts of the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Coconino National Forest and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management (AZDFFM) signed a Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) agreement for the Baker project on July 27, which is an important step that moves the project to the next stage.
This marks the first time in the region’s history that the State is able to remove timber from Forest Service land and will help pave the way for future GNA projects.
The Forest Service is excited to partner with state forestry agencies through the GNA to implement critically important forest and watershed restoration work on National Forest System lands when the Forest Service is unable to do the work alone.
The Baker project is also made possible by Salt River Project and the Town of Payson, which are contributing necessary funds to ensure the forest thinning treatments can be implemented.
“Salt River Project and the Town of Payson have been dedicated and collaborative partners from the planning stages and now through the implementation phase,” said Mogollon Rim District Ranger Linda Wadleigh.
AZDFFM can now begin the search for a company to perform the mechanical treatments for the Baker project, which is a portion of the East Clear Creek watershed feeding into the C.C. Cragin Reservoir.
“Protecting the watershed is critically important to ensure there are sustainable water supplies for downstream communities,” said Forest Supervisor Laura Jo West.
Through the GNA agreement, AZDFFM and a selected contractor will implement treatments on more than a thousand acres of the Mogollon Rim just south of Baker Butte Lookout—a butte located approximately 12 miles southwest of C.C. Cragin Reservoir.
The overall purpose of the Baker project is improvement of forest health by reducing the risk of extreme wildfire through forest fuel reduction, protecting municipal water supplies and power infrastructure, while also improving the lookout tower’s viewshed.
Harvesting of trees to implement treatments will likely begin this fall or early spring. The Baker project is part of the overarching Cragin Watershed Protection Project (CWPP)—the result of many years of hard work between partners such as the Forest Service, AZDFFM, Salt River Project, and the Town of Payson.