Flagstaff AZ (September 30, 2013) – Coconino National Forest fire managers are preparing for fall season prescribed burning as fall conditions create opportunities for applying low-intensity fire to the landscape.
Up to 11,200 acres of prescribed fire treatments are tentatively planned across the forest this season. Acreages are estimates and tentative, depending on how often and how long conditions are suitable. The chart below lists the areas and project names.
The forest depends on low-intensity fire to reduce accumulated vegetation, enhance wildlife habitat, and recycle valuable nutrients into the soil. “Fire is a natural part of this ecosystem,” said Vic Morfin, Coconino National Forest Fuels Management Officer. “It reduces the likelihood of severe fire behavior, creating safer conditions for the community and firefighters.”
Prescribed burns are termed such because they are conducted within a “prescription” that defines the fuel moisture levels, air temperatures, wind conditions, and relative humidity levels that are appropriate for each project.
All prescribed fire activity is dependent on personnel availability, fuel conditions, weather – including ventilation conditions, and approval from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).
Prescribed broadcast burns involve applying fire across the forest floor. Small flames make their way along the surface, consuming logs, branches, and accumulated leaves and needles while recycling nutrients back into the soil. “Smoke is usually noticeable. It can be a nuisance, but it’s an unwanted necessary byproduct.” said Morfin, “We work hard to ensure smoke impacts are minimal.”
Fire managers strive to minimize smoke impacts to the community by working closely with ADEQ, partners in the Ponderosa Fire Advisory Council, as well as neighboring forests to monitor air quality. In addition, fire managers try to burn when winds and other atmospheric conditions will push the majority of smoke away from homes, and try to burn larger sections at a time to ultimately limit the number of days smoke is in the air.
Regular news releases will be distributed with planned prescribed fire activity. The public can register to receive these email notifications by choosing “Southwestern Region” at http://www.fs.fed.us/news/subscription. Information can also be obtained via the Prescribed Fire Hotline: 928-226-4607, our website, and Twitter at www.twitter.com/CoconinoNF.