Sedona AZ (June 20, 2015) – The Oak Creek Canyon area is recovering well after the 2014 Slide Fire, but it’s not completely “back to normal.”
After the fire, the Forest Service’s Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team treated over 2,100 acres with aerial mulching and seeding to accelerate regrowth of vegetation on burned slopes, slow down erosion and reduce sediment flow into Oak Creek. The team has been monitoring recovery and recently completed their assessment. Overall, the conditions have improved. Due to the treatments, favorable rainfall and good watershed recovery, the risk of erosion, runoff, flooding, debris flows, and rockslides has reduced by at least 50%.
Today the Forest Service reopened the AB Young Trail as well as the area between Slide Rock State Park and Halfway Picnic Area, both of which had been closed since the fire. No closures are anticipated for Oak Creek Canyon this monsoon season; however, visitors are urged to remain cautious because hazards still exist.
Some areas of high burn severity – including portions of Sterling Canyon, West Fork of Oak Creek, and Lower Oak Creek – could not be treated with aerial mulching and seeding. These areas pose a risk of erosion, mudflows, and shallow debris slides.
The Forest Service will continue to monitor the National Weather Service flood warnings and may consider temporary emergency closures of individual sites during severe storms. Visitors should avoid trees that have been weakened by fire, and remember that E. coli bacteria levels in water are often elevated during storms and in areas of heavy recreation.
Visitors should contact the Red Rock Ranger District at 928-203-7500 or visit www.coconinonationalforest.us for current information.