FREDONIA — With a favorable window of opportunity expected to remain open on the North Kaibab Ranger District for the remainder of the week, North Zone fire managers plan to commence this year’s prescribed fire season as early as tomorrow by initiating ignitions in the Moquitch 4 project area.
The Moquitch 4 burn unit is geographically located approximately 6 miles south of Jacob Lake and is bound by Forest Service Road (FR) 217 and dozer line on the east, FR 282 on the west, FR 260 on the north and FR 212 on the south. Mainly comprised of ponderosa pine with scattered clumps of aspen and patches of New Mexico locust, this planned fuels treatment is intended to reduce hazardous fuel loads, improve wildlife habitat and stimulate aspen regeneration in the project area.
Fire managers began fuels treatments in this project area in June and to date completed 96 acres of the 1,104 acre planning area. Tomorrow, fire managers plan to target an additional 100 acres in the southern-most portion of this burn unit and continue working in a northerly direction throughout the following week until complete.
Implementation of prescribed fires is dependent on weather and fuel conditions including winds, temperature, humidity, moisture of the vegetation and ventilation conditions for dispersal of smoke, as well as, prior coordination with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
Smoke may be visible from the vicinity of Jacob Lake, AZ Highway 67 and AZ Highway 89A.
“Understanding that smoke is often not a popular trade-off for having a healthy forest in a fire adapted ecosystem, part of our goal is to get the word out to people in our local communities as soon as possible and limit our operations to times when smoke has the best chance of dispersing,” said North Zone Fuels Specialist Dave Robinson.
Prior to igniting a prescribed burn, fire effects crew monitors use a pilot balloon (PIBAL) to construct a wind profile to determine wind direction and wind speed. If conditions are not appropriate to implement a prescribed fire treatment, then operations are halted until conditions fall within established parameters. In addition to conducting PIBAL operations, fire effects crew monitors also measure, monitor and document the effects of fuels treatment projects during implementation.
“The documentation generated by our fire monitors is important in determining how we can improve forest health and also in measuring our compliance with various laws, our forest plan and burn plans to help ensure the quality of our air, our water and our reforestation efforts,” said North Kaibab District Ranger Randall Walker.
Forest visitors are reminded to use caution when in the vicinity of fire personnel and fire vehicles during prescribed fire operations. Visitors should drive slowly, turn on headlights, and avoid stopping in areas where fire personnel are working.
Kaibab National Forest fire information is also available through the following resources: InciWeb http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/; Kaibab National Forest Fire Information Phone Line (928) 635-8311; Text Message – text ‘follow kaibabnf’ to 40404; Twitter www.twitter.com/KaibabNF.