Thinning operations planned for along Senator Highway
Forest Service warns of temporary closures, dangers in area
Beginning this week, a contractor will be using heavy equipment to thin trees on 695 acres of Prescott National Forest land.
Known as the Schoolhouse Stewardship Project, the acreage is located south of the City of Prescott between Senator Highway and White Spar Road. Thinning operations will initially start along Senator Highway.
The thinning is dependent on weather and soil conditions, but visitors can expect equipment to be in the area for the next two to four months.
Several sections of the project are located adjacent to Goldwater Lakes Trail 396, which makes up a portion of the Prescott Circle Trail.
As the contractor moves through the area, portions of the Circle Trail and other system trails will be periodically closed and trail users will be re-routed to other system trails. Additionally, the 396 trailhead, located on White Spar Road, could be closed during a portion of this time.
At this time, operations will not impact trail use. However, as the operator moves through the project area, numerous signs will be posted to make trail users aware of thinning operations, the status of trail closures as well as alternate routes.
“Please do not enter areas where the heavy equipment is operating. Approaching such equipment is very dangerous as the operator may not see you,” said Prescott National Forest spokesperson Debbie Maneely.
Measures will also be taken to protect the surface of trails and impacts will be remedied by the contractor and the Forest Service as needed. In addition, there will be increased truck traffic along Senator Highway and White Spar Road.
Prescott National Forest personnel will also ensure that agency approved events, such as the Whiskey Off-Road Race, will experience only minimal interruptions. Until mechanical operations are concluded, which is estimated to be in early March, forest managers recommend that visitors take advantage of recreational opportunities in the Granite Basin Recreation Area or the Thumb Butte Day Use Area.
The intent of the project is to improve the health and resiliency of fire-adapted ecosystems while simultaneously reducing hazardous fuels that pose a threat to life and property in the wildland-urban interface.
Information provided by the Prescott National Forest