Verde Valley News – The Fossil Creek recreation area will remain closed for the foreseeable future as the area continues to recover from the impact of the 2021 Backbone Fire and in order to protect the public from dangerous hazards and possible flash flooding.
Hydrologists and other experts have spent the past week monitoring vegetation regrowth, measuring soil burn severity and surveying streams for debris dams, and they will continue with assessments throughout the season.
The information collected from these assessments will inform Coconino NF staff as to what post-fire hazards remain in the area and help determine if the closure order can safely be lifted earlier than planned.
“We understand that the public is eager to get back to enjoying Fossil Creek’s natural beauty, but public safety is of utmost importance,” said Alex Schlueter, Deputy District Ranger for the Red Rock Ranger District. “These areas, especially waterways like Fossil Creek located beneath a fire scar, remain dangerous long after the flames have subsided.”
The current area closure is set to expire Dec. 31, 2022 and includes Fossil Creek Road (Forest Road 708), as well as the Child’s Dispersed Camping Area. However, the closure order may be adjusted, and the restricted area may be reduced in the future if it is deemed safe and feasible to open certain parts of the Fossil Creek area.
The Coconino NF will communicate all changes to the closure order as they occur, and updates about Fossil Creek conditions will be recorded and posted on the Fossil Creek Hotline at 928-226-4611.
Photos of some of the damage to Fossil Creek and surrounding areas are available on the Coconino NF’s Flickr page.