FREDONIA — In the last two weeks, firefighters from the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service have worked together as the North Zone Interagency Fire Management Program to successfully complete more than 4,000 acres of hazardous fuels reduction treatments on the North Kaibab Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest. This week fire managers continue to track conditions for additional treatments within the Kaibab Plateau.
These hazardous fuels reduction treatments may start as early as Thursday beginning with the Jacob Ryan Lobo Unit if weather and fuel conditions remain favorable and extend into prescribed fire operations on the Tipover East Unit.
Jacob Ryan Lobo Unit (Lobo Rx): The unit is 1,952 acres and is bound by a series of dozer lines connecting Forest Service Road (FS) 248G, FS 636A, FS 636, FS 248, and FS 247 on the north, FS 248V to FS 248 to FS 248A on the south, FS 247 on the east, and FS 248A on the west.
Fuels within the Lobo prescribed fire burn unit are predominantly ponderosa pine, pinyon pine, juniper and a few scattered clumps of aspen. New Mexico locust and cliff rose can also be found throughout the project area, and goals include protecting human life and improvements, expediting the development of Northern goshawk habitat, increasing resilience to insects, disease and wildfire, and increasing the overall forest health and sustainability by returning fire to a fire-adapted ecosystem.
Tipover East Unit (Tipover East Rx): The total Tipover East project area is 10,296 acres in size, but the entire project area will not be burned at once. Fire managers have divided the project area into separate burn units that will be treated over the next three to five years. They are focusing on approximately 3,500 acres for this season. The total unit covers a strip of forested land along the boundary of Grand Canyon National Park and the Kaibab National Forest west of Highway 67 and is bound by FS 223 on the north, portions of FS 270 and Highway 67 on the east, the 2003 Poplar fire history area on the south, and portions of the NPS-W4, FS 268B and FS 268 roads on the west.
Fuels within the Tipover East prescribed fire burn unit are primarily a mixed conifer forest with occasional patches of spruce-fir forest, aspen forest, ponderosa pine forest, and grasslands. Fuel loading through much of the unit can be characterized as moderate to heavy, approximately 36 to 55 tons per acre with an average of about 40 tons per acre across the entire unit. One objective within the Tipover East burn unit is to reduce these dead and downed woody fuels by 30 to 60 percent.
In the interest of safety, forest visitors are reminded to obey all traffic signs and use caution when traveling in the vicinity of the prescribed fire burn units as firefighters and fire-related traffic will be in the area. Smoke is expected to be visible from Highway 89A, Highway 67, Marble Canyon and other high-use visitor areas; however, fire managers will strive to minimize smoke impacts to the community as much as possible. Smoke is expected to disperse during the daytime, but residual smoke may settle into drainages and low-lying areas overnight. However, it is expected to dissipate quickly as fire managers will only commence ignitions when conditions exist that will allow smoke to adequately ventilate.
As a reminder, 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. For additional information on the Smoke Management Division of the ADEQ and to view prescribed burns authorized on any given day, please visit www.azdeq.gov/environ/air/smoke/index.html.
Notifications of upcoming prescribed burns will be provided regularly throughout the season. Additional information on current and upcoming North Kaibab Ranger District prescribed burns are provided through the following methods:
· Fire Information Recorded Hotline: 928-635-8311
· Twitter: www.twitter.com/KaibabNF (Text ‘follow kaibabnf’ to 40404 to receive text messages.)
· Kaibab website “News & Events”: www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab
· InciWeb: inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5021/