North Zone fire managers announce plans for 2017-2018 prescribed fire season on Kaibab Plateau

FREDONIA – North Zone fire managers on the North Kaibab Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest and the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park have announced locations where they plan to complete prescribed fire projects starting in October and continuing through the spring of 2018. Approximately 13,850 acres could be eligible for treatment across the plateau, but the implementation of each project will only occur when weather, fuel moisture, and smoke dispersal conditions are within the defined prescription parameters.

The role that prescribed fires play includes decreasing risks to life, resources, and property. Fire managers carefully plan prescribed fires, initiating them only under environmental conditions that are favorable to assure firefighter and visitor safety and to achieve the desired objectives, which include reducing accumulations of hazard fuels, maintaining the natural role of fire in a fire-adapted ecosystem, and protecting sensitive cultural and natural resources.

This season’s planned treatment areas are as follows:

Thompson Unit: The Thompson prescribed burn unit (Thompson Rx) consists of dense vegetation and heavy dead and down fuels that are predominantly composed of spruce, fir, and aspen. The ignition portion of the Thompson Unit is approximately 2,000 acres, and the project area is located both on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and the North Kaibab Ranger District, on the east side of AZ Highway 67 and directly east of the North Rim entrance station. Objectives include reducing accumulations of hazardous fuels by 40 percent.

Smoke impacts may include Highway 67, the North Rim Entrance Station, DeMotte Park and portions of the Grand Canyon including the Nankoweep area and Kwagunt Valley area. Additional smoke impacts may occur in the Marble Canyon area and as far away as Page.

Moquitch 3 Unit: The Moquitch 3 prescribed burn unit (Moquitch 3 Rx) consists of vegetation that is predominantly ponderosa pine with scattered clumps of aspen and patches of New Mexico locust. The unit is approximately 3,500 acres and is located about 6 miles south of Jacob Lake. Objectives include reducing accumulations of hazardous fuels down to 5 tons-per-acre and stimulating aspen regeneration in areas where mature clones exist.

Smoke impacts may include Jacob Lake, AZ Highway 67 and AZ Highway 89A.

Tipover East Unit: The Tipover East prescribed burn unit (Tipover Rx) consists of vegetation that is predominantly first-entry mixed conifer, which in this case means the area has not seen fire disturbance in more than 100 years and therefore contains above-average fuel loads potentially posing a higher risk of a large-scale wildfire. Fire managers plan to treat approximately 2,500 acres for this season. The unit is located on a strip of forested land along the boundary of Grand Canyon National Park and the Kaibab National Forest west of Highway 67. Objectives include reducing accumulations of hazardous fuels and protecting sensitive cultural and natural resources.

Smoke impacts may include Highway 89A, Highway 67, Marble Canyon and other high-use visitor areas.

North Rim Slopes Unit: The North Rim Slopes prescribed burn unit (Slopes Rx) also consists of vegetation that is predominantly first-entry mixed conifer. Fire managers plan to treat approximately 2,500 acres for this season. The unit is located along the north boundary of Grand Canyon National Park, west of Highway 67. Objectives include reducing accumulations of hazardous fuels by 25 percent and returning fire to a fire-adapted ecosystem.

Smoke impacts may include Highway 67, the North Rim Entrance Station, DeMotte Park and portions of the Grand Canyon.

Wildhorse Unit: The Wildhorse prescribed burn unit (Wildhorse Rx) consists of vegetation that is predominantly Ponderosa pine, Pinion pine, Juniper and a few scattered clumps of Aspen. The unit is approximately 2,800 acres and is located near Jacob Lake. Objectives include reducing accumulations of hazardous fuels down to 5 tons-per-acre and protecting sensitive cultural and natural resources.

Smoke impacts may include Forest Service roads north of Jacob Lake, Highway 89A, Jacob Lake developed area and the LeFevre overlook.

High Severity Edge Unit: The High Severity Edge prescribed burn unit (High Severity Edge Rx) consists of vegetation that is predominantly ponderosa pine and mixed conifer. Fire managers plan to treat approximately 500 acres for this season, and the unit is located on the Walhalla Plateau, west and south of Cape Royal Road. Objectives include limiting high severity fire effects in forested areas adjacent to or near patches of past high-severity wildfires.

Smoke impacts may include Highway 67, the North Rim Entrance Station, DeMotte Park and portions of the Grand Canyon.

Bright Angel Unit: The Bright Angel prescribed burn unit (Bright Angel Rx) consists of vegetation that is predominantly ponderosa pine. Fire managers plan to treat approximately 50 acres this season, and objectives include reducing fuel accumulations, creating a defensible space around structures in the developed area on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and protecting sensitive cultural and natural resources.

Smoke impacts may include portions of the Grand Canyon.

North Zone Pile Burns (Pile Rx): Fire managers will also spend time preparing to burn piles of woody debris as resources and weather conditions allow. These piles are typically composed of vegetative materials, commonly called slash, such as tops, limbs, branches, brush, and other recently cut miscellaneous materials resulting from forest management activities such as thinning, pruning, timber harvesting, and wildfire hazard mitigation. Upon arranging slash into compact, teepee-shapes and allowing the piles to dry, fire managers will burn the piles during safe burning conditions, generally after a snowfall or significant wetting-rain events.

During prescribed fires, motorists are cautioned that smoke may be present in short durations, which may impact roads and populated areas, and are reminded to use caution, drive slowly, turn on headlights, and avoid stopping in areas where fire personnel is working.

As a reminder, all prescribed burning is subject to approval by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and appropriate weather conditions. For additional information on the Smoke Management Division of the ADEQ and to view prescribed burns authorized on any given day, please visit http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/air/smoke/index.html.

Before any given prescribed fire operations begin, additional information will be released regarding location, timing and anticipated smoke impacts. Fire information is also available through the following resources: Inciweb at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5632/; Kaibab National Forest Fire Information Phone Line (928) 635-8311; Text Message – text ‘follow kaibabnf’ to 40404; https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/management/fire_info.htm.

North Kaibab Ranger District announces changes in winter hours, closures

FREDONIA – Forest staff would like to remind visitors of the following changes for the upcoming winter season.

DeMotte Campground: The last night to camp is Oct. 14. This campground is scheduled to close for the winter season on Oct. 15 at noon.

Jacob Lake & Group Site Campgrounds: The last night to camp at these campgrounds will be Oct. 18. Both campgrounds are scheduled to close for the winter season on Oct. 19 at noon.

Big Springs & Jumpup Cabin Rentals: The last night to camp at Big Springs or Jump Up cabins is Nov. 2, unless inclement weather forces an earlier closure.

Information regarding campsites reservations, cabin rentals, and cancellations may be found at https://www.recreation.gov/.

Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center: Beginning Oct. 21 through Nov. 26, the Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center at Jacob Lake will only be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. During these hours, fuelwood permits will be available to purchase at the Visitor Center.

2017 Personal-Use Fuelwood Cutting Season: Permits are still available at the district office during regular business hours. As a reminder, all unused personal-use fuelwood cutting permits will not be valid after Nov. 30. Wood cutting permit sales will resume in May 2018 pending appropriate weather conditions. Additional information on fuelwood permits is available at https://go.usa.gov/xncXn.

Williams and Tusayan Ranger Districts announce seasonal prescribed fire plans

Fire managers on the south zone of the Kaibab National Forest have completed plans for the 2017 fall and 2018 spring prescribed fire burning seasons and expect to begin working in several project areas by the end of this month. The specific units to be ignited will be chosen based on fuel moistures and weather conditions that are within prescriptive levels that meet fuels reduction objectives.

The flowing project areas are planned for treatments:

Green Base Dry Lake Project: Thirteen burn units northeast of Williams, north of I-40 and east of Highway 64 near Pittman Valley. This project is a total of 5,990 acres.

Green Base Hardy Project: Five burn units also northeast of Williams, north of I-40 and east of Highway 64 near Pittman Valley. This project is a total of 3,846 acres.

Sunflower Project: Seven burn units south of Williams, between County Road 73 and Whitehorse Lake. This project is a total of 15,195 acres.

Reed Project: Three burn units 5 miles east of Tusayan and just south of the Grand Canyon National Park. This project size is 1,182 acres.

Fire plays a beneficial role in maintaining the ecological stability of many landscapes including the Kaibab National Forest. Managers use prescribed fire as a practical means to reduce risks associated with uncharacteristic wildfires that can pose significant threats to public health and safety.

Officials understand that impacts to air quality may be unpleasant at times, however they can significantly reduce the amount and limit the duration of smoke more effectively using prescribed methods as opposed to an uncontrolled wildfire situation. Fire managers will continue to be mindful of wind direction and ventilation and will take a proactive approach to minimize smoke impacts to businesses and residences whenever possible.

During operations, fire personnel and vehicles working in the vicinity of the burns will be visible to the public. Motorists are reminded to slow down and drive with heightened caution when passing through active project areas.

All prescribed burning on the Kaibab National Forest is subject to approval by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

For additional information on the Smoke Management Division of the ADEQ and to view prescribed burns authorizations, please visit www.azdeq.gov/environ/air/smoke/index.html. Additional fire information for Kaibab National Forest can be obtained through the following sources: InciWeb inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5160/ Kaibab National Forest Fire Information Phone Line (928) 635-8311; Text Message – text ‘follow kaibabnf’ to 40404.

Kaibab National Forest to offer Tusayan Ranger District fuelwood permits in Tuba City and Cameron

TUSAYAN – The Kaibab National Forest will issue free-use, paid personal-use and ceremonial fuelwood permits for the Tusayan Ranger District at the following events in Tuba City and Cameron:

September 29, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. DST – Tuba City Flea Market
October 13, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. MST – Cameron Community Celebration

A permit must be acquired by anyone harvesting any fuelwood on the Kaibab National Forest, except for the rather small amounts used in a campfire and gathered at the campfire site. The 2017 firewood cutting season runs from May 1 to December 31 for the Williams and Tusayan Ranger Districts and from May 1 to November 30 for the North Kaibab Ranger District.

The minimum cost for a personal use fuelwood permit is $20, which is good for four cords of wood. A maximum of six cords of wood is available for $30. For free-use permits, a maximum of four cords is available. These cord limits are per household, not individual. For ceremonial fuelwood permits, however, two cords are available per individual.

Besides the September 29 and October 13 Tuba City and Cameron events, fuelwood permits are also regularly available at the following Kaibab National Forest locations:

Williams Ranger District – 742 S. Clover Road, Williams; (928) 635-5600
Tusayan Ranger District – 176 Lincoln Log Loop, Grand Canyon; (928) 638-2443
North Kaibab Ranger District – 430 S. Main St., Fredonia; (928) 643-7395

All permits issued will include a map and detailed cutting regulations as well as load tags, which must be physically attached to each ¼ cord of firewood and visible from the rear of the vehicle. The goal of this load tagging system is to ensure accountability for the amount of wood removed from the forest. The removal of fuelwood is permitted only from National Forest lands on the district for which the permit is issued. Fuelwood cutters are reminded to take note of property boundaries and cut only on National Forest lands. Fuelwood cutters should be aware that chainsaws can throw sparks and ignite grasses and brush. Always carry a shovel and a fire extinguisher or water in case of a fire start. Additionally, all chainsaws must be equipped with a stainless steel spark arrestor screen. Detailed firewood cutting information and maps for each ranger district are available on the Kaibab National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/kaibab/fuelwood.

Northern AZ prairie dog burrows dusted to combat plague near Williams, Flagstaff

FLAGSTAFF — The Arizona Game and Fish Department, together with the Kaibab National Forest Williams Ranger District, recently applied insecticidal dust Williams and Flagstaff-area Gunnison prairie dog holes for fleas.

Last month fleas tested near the Red Lake area north of Williams tested positive for plague, a potentially fatal disease that could eradicate prairie dog colonies and other infected animals. Plague-infected fleas were also recently found at an AZGFD research plot at Garland Prairie near Flagstaff.

“Unfortunately, it has been a very busy year for plague,” said Holly Hicks, a small mammals biologist with AZGFD. “An infestation can prove detrimental for prairie dog populations because they are highly communal animals, and the disease spreads easily in a colony. That is why it is important for us to identify an infected colony and dust it with insecticide to reduce the risk of infection to other animals and people.”

Crews recently dusted prairie dog holes across 664 acres near Red Lake about 10 miles north of Williams.

On September 3, an AZGFD biologist found a deceased prairie dog, which tested positive for plague near Garland Prairie. To prevent the spread, an additional 800 acres were dusted, including around plots currently being used for sylvatic plague vaccine research.

The disease is carried by fleas which spread the disease through host animals. While prairie dogs are host to fleas, the fleas can remain in the burrow after their host dies and attach themselves to the next host that comes along, which may or may not be another prairie dog.

Badgers, coyotes and foxes are also host to fleas and are more likely to cause a widespread outbreak of the disease because they travel further distances.

Those in areas where plague and/or rodents are known to be present are urged to take the following precautions to reduce their risk of exposure:

  • Do not handle sick or dead animals.
  • Prevent pets from roaming loose. Pets can pick up the infected fleas. De-flea pets routinely. Contact your veterinarian for specific recommendations.
  • Avoid rodent burrows and fleas.
  • Use insect repellents when visiting or working in areas where plague might be active or rodents might be present (campers, hikers, woodcutters and hunters).
  • Wear rubber gloves and other protection when cleaning and skinning wild animals.
  • Do not camp near rodent burrows and avoid sleeping directly on the ground.
  • In case of illness see your physician immediately as treatment with antibiotics is very effective.

More information is available at https://www.cdc.gov/plague/.

Officials lift closure of Kendrick Mountain area on Kaibab and Coconino National Forests

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:

  1. Know the weather forecast and check it frequently as conditions can change in a very short timeframe.
  2. Let someone outside of the area know exactly where you are and where you will be going daily.
  3. 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.
  4. During windy conditions, remain in open areas that are free of trees (both live and burned) as much as possible.
  5. If an area seems unsafe for any reason, leave.
  6. Have good maps and know where you are at all times.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.”

Public invited to release of California Condors on September 30, at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

VERMILION CLIFFS – California Condors will be released to the wild in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in northern Arizona at 11 a.m. Saturday, September 30. The public is welcome to observe the release from a viewing area where spotting scopes will be set up and project personnel will be available to answer questions.

The release coincides with National Public Lands Day, the nation’s largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance America’s public lands. National Public Lands Day involves the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies, along with state and local governments and private groups.

· Driving directions: Take Highway 89A from Kanab or Page to the Vermilion Cliffs (from Flagstaff take Highway 89 to Highway 89A). Turn north onto BLM Road 1065 (a dirt road next to the small house just east of the Kaibab Plateau) and continue almost 3 miles.
· Bring: Spotting scope or binoculars, sunscreen, water, snack, chair and layered clothing
· Details: Informational kiosk, shade structure, and restroom at the site.
· Map: https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/documents/files/2010%20VCNM%20California%20Condor%20Release%20Map.pdf

This will be the 21st annual public release of condors in Arizona since the condor recovery program began in 1996. Condors are hatched and reared in captivity at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho, and transported to Arizona for release to the wild. Condors also come to the release site from the Oregon Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, and San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

As of June 30, there were 74 condors in the wild in the rugged canyon country of northern Arizona and southern Utah. The world’s total population of endangered California Condors numbers over 450 individuals, with more than half flying in the wilds of Arizona, Utah, California, and Mexico. The historical California Condor population declined to just 22 individuals in the 1980s when the program was initiated to save the species from extinction.

The Arizona-Utah recovery effort is a cooperative program by federal, state, and private partners, including The Peregrine Fund, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management’s Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Grand Canyon and Zion national parks, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and Kaibab and Dixie national forests among many other supporting groups and individuals.

For more information about California Condors in Arizona: http://www.peregrinefund.org/condor

Forest Service completing thinning project north of Parks

PARKS – Tree removal has begun on a 1,039-acre project on the Williams Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest associated with the Four Forest Restoration Initiative.

The Community Tank Timber Sale area is located about 11 miles north of Parks just south of Forest Road 171 and west of Kendrick Mountain Wilderness near Pumpkin Center. Harvesting operations recently began in the area and are expected to be completed by the end of this year, depending on weather conditions over the next few months.

As thinning work is implemented, residents and visitors can expect to see heavy, mechanized equipment and workers in the project area and an increasing number of log trucks traveling along the haul route. Because work is progressing quickly at the project site, it is expected that log trucks will begin hauling this week.

The major haul route will be from the project area south along Forest Road 141 through Parks to Interstate 40. It is possible that there could be a significant number of trucks hauling timber through this area until project completion.

Members of the public are urged to use extreme caution near timber removal and hauling operations. Besides the presence of heavy equipment and log trucks, there will also be trees being felled and stacked into log decks, which can be unstable. Visitors to the area should not camp near nor climb on them, as they often shift and have the possibility of collapse.

“It’s really important that local community members and visitors understand that they need to be careful when driving near a log truck or in areas where logging work is occurring. These are not areas to camp or play around in, and people need to be aware of what is happening around them,” said Tom Dauenhauer, a timber sale administrator for the Kaibab National Forest. “In the long run, the benefits of this work will be safer communities and healthier forests for all of us for years into the future. In the short term, though, it means being extra vigilant near project areas and haul routes so that this forest restoration work can be accomplished safely.”

The objectives of the Community Tank Timber Sale are to reduce fuel loading and the potential for future high-intensity wildfires and to improve forest health and watershed conditions. The thinning and logging work occurring on the Williams Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest is associated with the Four Forest Restoration Initiative.

The goal of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative is to accelerate the pace and scale of restoration within 2.4 million acres of ponderosa pine forest in northern Arizona to increase resilience and proper functioning. Restoring this fire-adapted ecosystem is accomplished with a suite of restoration activities – from watershed maintenance and habitat improvements to prescribed burning and thinning.

For additional information on the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, visit www.fs.usda.gov/4fri. Members of the public can find additional information on the Kaibab National Forest through the following sources:

Twitter: www.twitter.com/KaibabNF (Text ‘follow kaibabnf’ to 40404 to receive text messages.)
Kaibab website: www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab
Kaibab Facebook: www.facebook.com/KaibabNF

Youth crews spend summer supporting public lands and creating community

WILLIAMS – Williams YCC corps members work with fire and archaeology crews to thin and pile trees on the Williams Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest. – Kaibab National Forest photo

The Kaibab National Forest hosted two youth crews for the summer to accomplish projects, experience public lands, and learn skills and a strong work ethic, all while earning money and the possibility of an education award upon program completion.

The Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is a program coordinated through the Arizona Conservation Corps that affords young people, typically 17- and 18-year-olds, the opportunity to perform community service and resource conservation through hands-on project work with a variety of land management and community partners, including the Kaibab National Forest. As in past years, the Kaibab hosted two crews this summer, one stationed in Williams and the other in Fredonia.

Williams YCC corps members assist in removing invasive crayfish from Keyhole Sink on the Williams Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest. – Kaibab National Forest photo

“When I think about the experience our YCC members get serving on public lands, I’m struck with what a great opportunity it is for them to develop a healthy relationship with work and service,” said Russ Dickerson, operations director for the Arizona Conservation Corps. “They get to work as a close team, come to understand that if they don’t give it everything they have someone else may have to pick up the slack, and see firsthand the lasting impacts that their service can have.”

The 2017 YCC program ran from June 5 to July 22. Corps members worked Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and assisted with a variety of resource areas on the Kaibab National Forest including range, wildlife, recreation, fire, archaeology, timber and silviculture. Both the Williams and Fredonia YCC corps members completed a remarkably diverse array of projects helping Kaibab employees with work they may not have otherwise had the time or person-power to accomplish.

The Williams YCC crew assisted range staff in removing a broken trick tank, which is a watering device for livestock or wildlife, and unneeded fencing material. Working with the recreation department, they helped maintain the popular Bill Williams Mountain Trail by using crosscut saws to clear fallen trees, and they helped clean out drainage ditches. Assisting silviculturists, they scrubbed aspen trees to remove damaging oystershell scale insects and helped monitor the condition of aspen stands.

“On the Kaibab National Forest, we take a multi-faceted approach to protecting our aspen, which are in decline due to a variety of factors,” said Josh Giles, silviculturist for the Williams and Tusayan districts of the forest. “The corps members helped us scrub off pathogens, cut encroaching conifers out of aspen stands in order to reduce competition, and monitor the progress we are making to protect this important species. We were able to teach them about the precarious state of aspen and the role we can play as land managers to help make a difference.”

The Williams YCC corps members worked with fire and archaeology crews to thin and pile trees from the historic 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps interpretive site located near Barney Flat south of Williams. They also removed fuels and low vegetation from historic logging railroad grades across the Williams Ranger District in order to help protect the sites from future wildfires. Finally, they assisted biologists in removing crayfish, an invasive species, from Keyhole Sink. Crayfish are not native to Arizona, but they have become established in many waters throughout the state and endanger aquatic native species.

Fredonia YCC corps members accomplished an equivalently impressive list of projects during their tenure on the North Kaibab Ranger District. They worked with the range department to remove invasive bull thistle and old, unneeded fencing across the district. They assisted the timber and silviculture programs to mark boundaries for a timber sale while also being taught skills in map reading and GPS, plant and tree identification, forest health, and insect and disease identification.

“Working with the youth is not just about getting the job done,” said Allison Ayers, wilderness and trails specialist with the North Kaibab Ranger District. “It’s also about empowering young people to do things they never thought in their wildest dreams that they could do. This program makes the impossible possible for many young adults.”

The Fredonia YCC crew also assisted in clearing and maintaining a number of trails, including the iconic Rainbow Rim Trail, and received instruction on crosscut saw and ax use and technique. They helped spruce up the popular Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center and were treated to a presentation on California condors. They assisted in painting the porch, steps and outhouse at the historic Jacob Lake Ranger Station Cabin and then got to take an educational tour of the North Kaibab Ranger District to view archaeological sites and learn about Forest Service cultural resource management and laws.

From camping out at Big Springs to trekking to a fire lookout, Fredonia YCC corps members were offered engaging opportunities to not just work in but to also learn about public lands and their management.

“On the Kaibab National Forest, we have partners who have been committed to YCC members’ development for a long time and are really invested in our YCC members’ experiences,” Dickerson said. “If the YCC members work as hard in their future endeavors and take the lessons they learn about communication and teamwork along with them, there’s no need for any of us to worry about the future.”

All told, YCC corps members contributed a whopping 2,410 hours toward project work on the Kaibab National Forest that forest personnel likely would not otherwise have been able to accomplish. They also saw places that few people will ever see, experienced challenges that not everyone could overcome, and made investments in public lands that will endure for years or even decades.

“We’ve all been passed a torch to conserve and care for these lands that have been set aside, and we should see to it that we’re able to pass that same torch. Additionally, though, there’s something delightfully subversive about a young person swinging an ax,” Dickerson said. “The story about young people only staring at their phones and thinking only for themselves is so widespread that it goes unchallenged. I know a different set of young people, though – their boots are trashed, their hands have hard callouses, their packs are heavy, and they’re giving, unselfish, aware, and thoughtful.”

For additional information on YCC, visit www.azcorps.org. Follow the Kaibab National Forest on Facebook and Twitter @KaibabNF.

Kaibab National Forest releases video showcasing Snake Gulch and its prehistoric paintings and etchings

WILLIAMS – The Kaibab National Forest has released a short video telling the story of a remote canyon north of the Grand Canyon that is home to an incredible array of prehistoric paintings and etchings.

“Snake Gulch: A Passage Through Time” captures the beauty and value of that place and its colorful images, which represent thousands of years of human history and leave a visual record of the rich cultures that once occupied the area. It also showcases the dedication of the people who cherish and work to preserve it.Snake Gulch is located in the Kanab Creek Wilderness on the North Kaibab Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest. For the past three decades, Forest Service archaeologists, with the assistance of volunteers, academic researchers and local tribes, have been documenting, photographing, interpreting and working to preserve the thousands of sites over a winding 10-mile stretch within this remarkable canyon.

“Managing cultural resource sites on public lands is an enormous task, and federal archaeologists can’t do it alone,” said Connie Reid, archaeologist and tribal liaison for the North Kaibab Ranger District. “Our tribal partners and volunteers play a tremendous role in helping agency archaeologists like me in caring for these irreplaceable sites. Our goal is to share these incredible resources with the American public, while respecting tribal values and doing what we can to protect the area for future generations to learn from and enjoy.”

The ancient images found in Snake Gulch were left by Native American people who occupied the region thousands of years ago. Many of the images were made during the transition period from the hunting and gathering lifestyle to agriculture, often referred to as the Neolithic Transition. On the canyon walls, there are many anthropomorphic, or human-like, images with head dresses, necklaces and other forms of adornment engaging in celebratory activities like dancing and playing music, as well as other day-to-day subsistence activities such as hunting and farming. These images give archaeologists rare glimpses into the vibrant cultures that once called the area home.

In recognition of the significance of archaeological and historic sites like Snake Gulch that are located on public lands, Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966. The act directs federal agencies to protect significant cultural resources located on public lands and share that legacy with the American people.

October 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act and began a year-long celebration of archaeological and cultural resources in the Forest Service’s Southwestern Region, which manages some of the most important and spectacular sites in the country.

As part of that celebration, the Kaibab National Forest developed an extensive photo library of the invaluable images of Snake Gulch that can not only be viewed by the public but can also serve as a reference source for researchers and a monitoring tool for forest archaeologists. Kaibab National Forest employees also decided to share the treasures of Snake Gulch and the importance of valuing them with a wider audience by producing “Snake Gulch: A Passage Through Time.”

While the work in Snake Gulch is far from complete, the Forest Service has set a foundation to better protect and preserve these amazing nonrenewable resources over time. The Kaibab National Forest continues to work with youth groups, professional artists, tribal elders, volunteers, and other organizations and individuals to make progress on this significant documentation and preservation endeavor.

“I would say to the youth to be respectful of places like this, to take care of it so that their children and their grandchildren can see these writings. These places are places of power, what we call ‘puha,’” said Glendora Homer, member of the Kaibab Band of Southern Paiute. “Respect is the most important thing that you can give a place like this. Respect the beliefs of the Indian people. Respect these writings. They might not mean anything to you, but they do have great meaning to us and great significance to us. This is also a part of your heritage as Americans, and we as Americans have to take care of our cultural heritage sites.”