Arizona News – As a joint effort on this large, prescribed burn project southwest of Flagstaff, Coconino National Forest and Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management plan to conduct a 4,500-acre burn June 7, 2023 through Friday to reduce forest fuels and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.
The Crater Sinks project, located 10 miles southwest of Flagstaff (GPS: 35°04’58.8″N 111°47’24.0″W), includes a checkerboard of federal and state lands that has been in the planning stages for more than 4 years and will complete important work close to northern Arizona communities to help mitigate wildfire risks. Firefighters plan on using a helicopter for ignitions by air.
Winds are forecasted from the south/southwest at approximately 13 mph, which means smoke will disperse toward the north/northeast and should travel up and over Flagstaff. However, smoke will likely impact areas of Oak Creek Canyon overnight as temperatures cool and settle and may impact Flagstaff.
This work is part of the Wildfire Crisis Strategy recently announced by the Chief of the Forest Service where national forests across the country are working more closely with partners to restore healthy, resilient landscapes, and fire is a natural part of that process. Healthy ecosystems are less vulnerable to extreme wildfires that can devastate watersheds, destroy wildlife habitat, and risk lives.
The Forest Service’s 10-year Wildfire Crisis Strategy aims to increase prescribed burning and other treatments across the multi-jurisdictional landscapes to improve forest resiliency for generations to come. With that work comes more smoke which can have an impact on both the public and our responders.
We recognize that smoke impacts can affect residents and visitors in addition to our fire personnel. We will continue to coordinate closely with partners and communities to keep people informed about projects and potential smoke. Affected communities can learn more at airnow.gov.
Prior to conducting prescribed burns, the Coconino NF follows steps outlined in the agency-wide National Prescribed Fire Review. These steps include items such as validating and updating prescribed burn plans with the most recent science and modeling, incorporating new drought monitoring data, ensuring the patrol plan and long-term patrol strategy is documented and communicating with and involving landowners, cooperators, elected officials and partners as we implement prescribed fires.
For more information on why prescribed burns are conducted and how they benefit the landscape and help protect communities, please visit our Prescribed Fire and Forest Health webpage.
Prescribed burn information can always be accessed in several ways:
- Via InciWeb at inciweb.wildfire.gov. All projects will be detailed under the “Coconino National Forest prescribed fire (Spring 2023)” page.
- On Twitter at @CoconinoNF
- On Facebook – search “U.S. Forest Service – Coconino National Forest”
- Via news releases. Subscribe to Coconino National Forest news releases by visiting coconinonationalforest.us, and then clicking the “Get News Via Email” link under the “Stay Connected” header
Prescribed burns are always dependent upon weather and wind conditions, as well as approval from Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). The public can view approved prescribed burns on ADEQ’s website at smoke.azdeq.gov. Coconino NF burns begin with the designator “COF.”
During prescribed burns, smoke will be visible from several areas across the forest. Please refrain from contacting dispatch or 911 to report prescribed burn smoke so lines can remain open for emergencies.