WILLIAMS – Effective at 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Kaibab and Coconino National Forests—in coordination with the Arizona Game and Fish Department—lifted the area closure on and around Kendrick Mountain that has been in place since the Boundary Fire in June. The public can now access the area, which had been closed due to unstable conditions caused by heavy monsoonal rains, but are advised to have heightened awareness about potential safety hazards and exercise increased vigilance regarding personal safety.
“Public safety was the driving factor in keeping the area closed for as long as we did,” said Kaibab National Forest Supervisor Heather Provencio. “It was important that we allow the landscape to stabilize during the immediate post-fire period and especially at the height of our monsoon season. We now believe it is appropriate to lift the closure, but that doesn’t mean that no hazards exist. It is important for people to always be aware of their surroundings when recreating in the forest, but it is especially important in areas recently impacted by wildfire.”
Potential risks in any area recently burned by wildfire include the following:
- storms resulting in flash flooding that could wash out roads, initiate debris flows, and entrap people at flooded stream courses;
- unsound burned trees (snags) that could fall or shed large limbs;
- eroded and very rough roads resulting in dangerous driving conditions;
- unstable terrain with potential for rolling debris (logs, rocks, boulders, etc.);
- burned out stump holes that could cause injury if stepped in;
and, blowing dust on roads and hillsides.
Visitors to the Kendrick Mountain area are advised to follow these outdoor safety best practices:
- Know the weather forecast and check it frequently as conditions can change in a very short timeframe.
- Let someone outside of the area know exactly where you are and where you will be going daily.
- Do not park vehicles or camp in areas with burned snags or where potential flood waters would prevent escape. Know where you are in relation to drainages.
- During windy conditions, remain in open areas that are free of trees (both live and burned) as much as possible.
- If an area seems unsafe for any reason, leave.
- Have good maps and know where you are at all times.
- Keep a well-charged cell phone with you and check it frequently so you know when you’re in an area where there is no coverage.
- Understand that there are many areas on public lands that are remote. It can take a very long time before responders can arrive if a rescue is required. The Kendrick Mountain area is very remote.
Visitors to the Kendrick Mountain area should also be aware that Forest Road 149 on the Kaibab National Forest side and which leads to the Pumpkin Trailhead is undergoing maintenance work for at least the next week. Barricades are installed at the entry to the road, so Pumpkin Trail users will have to park along Forest Road 171 and then walk to the trailhead, which will add about a mile to overall hiking distance. No driving or parking along Forest Road 149 will be allowed until the road maintenance work has been completed and the barricades removed.
The Kaibab and Coconino National Forests have been coordinating closely with the Arizona Game and Fish Department on the lifting of the Kendrick Mountain area closure due to several big game hunts opening in northern Arizona. The mountain is part of Game Management Unit 7W, and there are many hunters planning trips to the area in the coming weeks.
“We urge hunters to understand the potential hazards and to prepare accordingly,” said Colby Walton, wildlife manager with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “We know people wait a long time for their hunts. We want them to get to have the experience, but we also want them to do it safely, recognizing that any area recently impacted by wildfire will likely have some greater risk than other areas.”