Originally Published: May 29, 2018 3:16 p.m.
Due to increasing drought conditions, very high fire danger and public safety concerns, the Prescott National Forest (PNF) will implement an area closure on the Bradshaw Ranger District at 8 a.m. Friday June 1. Areas outside of the closure will remain in Stage 2 Fire Restrictions. This announcement comes at the heels of other closure announcements for state-owned and National Forest lands in neighboring counties.
Area closure description
Starting on the northwest corner of the closure area at the Prescott National Forest (PNF) boundary and County Road 10 (Iron Springs Road) intersection. Following County Road 10 north and east to the intersection of Forest Service Road (FSR) 74 (County Road 120, Skyline Drive). Following FSR 74 south to non-motorized Trail 264. Following Trail 264 south and east to FSR 373 (Thumb Butte Road). Following FSR 373 south/southeast to FSR 9402C. Following FSR 9402C to the Mount Francis Non-Motorized Fuel Break. Following the Mount Francis Non-Motorized Fuel Break south/southeast to meet Highway 89 (White Spar Road). Following Highway 89 northeast to the junction of Indian Creek Road (County Road 102). Following Indian Creek Road (CR 102) to National Forest/Ponderosa Park private property boundary. Following National Forest/Ponderosa Park boundary south then east to County Road 101 (Ponderosa Park Road). Following County Road 101 south to the junction of FSR 97B. Following FSR 97B south to FSR 667. Following FSR 667 south and east to FSR 9403C. Following FSR 9403C north and east to National Forest/private property boundary. Following the National Forest/private property boundary south and west to FSR 52B. Following FSR 52B to FSR 52 (Senator Hwy). Following FSR 52 south and east to County Road 59 (Crown King Road). Following County Road 59 north and east to the PNF boundary. Then following the PNF boundary south until it turns to the west. Then following the PNF boundary west until it turns north. Then following the PNF boundary north until it turns west again. Then following the PNF boundary west across the eastern intersection of County Road 60 and continuing to the western intersection of PNF boundary and County Road. 60. Following County Road 60 north and west to the PNF boundary. Then following the PNF boundary north back to where it intersects with County Road 10 (Iron Springs Road).
All approved vehicle travel roads, and non-motorized trails which the closure boundary parallels, but does not overlay, are open for public use except for the following prohibited roads:
• Forest Road 97B
• Forest Road 9403C
• Note: Traveling upon Forest Fuel breaks is prohibited.
Information provided by the Prescott National Forest
The PNF reminds concerned citizens that forest closures are not taken lightly, as they affect many people, businesses, partner agencies, important restoration and other work on the forest, and the public.
“When it comes to implementing both fire restrictions and closures, community sentiment is always a major consideration for forest leadership,” said PNF spokesperson Debbie Maneely. “We balance the need for restrictions with allowing public access to the National Forest and limiting the economic impacts to neighboring communities.”
Forest leadership carefully decide which areas meet specific criteria for closure, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Fire danger: Areas where the moisture content level of live and dead vegetation is extremely low.
• Vulnerability: Areas that are most vulnerable to fire suppression efforts due to inaccessibility, limited resources, and are difficult to evacuate visitors quickly and safely.
• Values at risk from wildfire: Values such as life, critical watersheds, trailheads, campgrounds, utility corridors, private property, communities, and critical infrastructure, etc.
• Topography: Areas with steep slopes and canyons that are difficult to access and effectively suppress wildfires, hazardous areas for firefighters, and areas which often align with traditional wind directions.
When forest closures are in effect, the public is prohibited from entering the closed areas. Exceptions may be made for forest service personnel conducting official business, certain contractors, and permit holders. The forest service cannot deny private land owners access to their land which may include access through the forest. Fire managers ask their neighbors to be vigilant and careful as they access private land. Law enforcement and fire prevention patrols have been increased on all districts along with additional fire suppression resources stationed in the area. Information is being disseminated far and wide about forest conditions and the need to be extremely careful when using the forest. The public can help by spreading the word, reporting violators, and making sure their homes and communities are Fire-wise.
This area closure has been in the planning phases for nearly two weeks and is part of a larger process that includes multiple criteria to determine the level of extra precautions. Earlier this spring, Stage 1 and the current Stage 2 fire restrictions are part of this process. Stage 2 has been very effective to date. The closure to be implemented on June 1 addresses a significant portion of the forest that is relatively inaccessible to firefighters and has large expanses of dry chaparral vegetation and few hazardous fuel treatments.
Closures and fire restrictions will be lifted when sufficient precipitation is received to adequately reduce the risk of wildfire, and hot, dry weather conditions are not forecast to continue.
Interested community members who would like more information on current forest conditions, fire restrictions and the area closure; the PNF will be hosting an open-house from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 30 at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Davis Learning Center and Auditorium, 20 Hunt Dr., in Prescott.
Violating any fire restrictions carries a mandatory appearance in federal court, punishable as a Class B misdemeanor with a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or up to six months in prison, or both.
The public can obtain additional fire information via the following:
• Arizona Fire Restrictions: https://firerestrictions.us/az
• Public Lands in Arizona: www.wildlandfire.AZ.gov or call 1-877-864-6985
• Prescott National Forest Web Site: https://www.fs.usda.gov/prescott/
• Local Ranger Stations: Bradshaw Ranger District, 928-443-8000; Chino Valley Ranger District 928-777-2200; Verde Ranger District 928-567-4121
Information provided by the Prescott National Forest