North Kaibab Ranger District scheduled to close due to construction

FREDONIA – All services at the North Kaibab Ranger District office will be closed on Tuesday, December 12 and Wednesday, December 13 due to the construction of a pedestrian boardwalk and hazardous tree removal of the large Elm directly west of the main building.

Services are scheduled to resume on Thursday, December 14 Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Regular office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Kaibab National Forest partners with The Nature Conservancy on forest restoration project

Heavy equipment being used during mechanical thinning operations along Forest Road 122. Photo by Dyan Bone. Credit Kaibab National Forest.

WILLIAMS – The Kaibab National Forest is partnering with The Nature Conservancy to complete critical forest restoration and watershed protection work around Bill Williams Mountain near the City of Williams.

The tree thinning work within the 2,496-acre Clover project area began this week and is expected to continue over the next two years, depending on weather and ground conditions at any given time. The work is occurring within the larger 15,200-acre Bill Williams Mountain Restoration Project footprint and is a top treatment priority for forest managers due to the area being the primary watershed and municipal water supply for the City of Williams.

“Getting this work accomplished is incredibly important to us as forest managers and as members of the Williams community,” said Samantha Flores, timber staff officer for the South Zone of the Kaibab National Forest. “By partnering with The Nature Conservancy through a stewardship agreement, we are able to meet our shared goals of greatly improving forest and watershed health while also making the City of Williams safer in the long run from threats like wildfire and flooding.”

As thinning work is implemented, residents and visitors can expect to see heavy, mechanized equipment and workers in the project area as well as an increasing number of log trucks, including some that may need to travel through the City of Williams. Haul routes will include forest roads 111, 106 and 140 as well as County Road 73 and Interstate 40. It is possible that there could be a significant number of trucks hauling timber through the 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.

While there are no official closures in place associated with this forest restoration work, visitors interested in hiking Bill Williams Mountain are encouraged to use the Bill Williams Mountain Trail rather than the Benham Trail for the duration of the project due to the likelihood that temporary detours or re-routes of Benham Trail might be necessary at various points, depending on harvesting activity.

Besides the Clover project, other forest restoration efforts are also underway in the Bill Williams Mountain Restoration Project footprint. Kaibab National Forest employees have planned and laid out more than 3,500 acres to be included in timber sales. This has involved developing prescriptions for these acres and marking trees within them. Members of the public may notice the marked trees while visiting the area. The Forest Service will be seeking to offer these acres in timber sales in the near future to local contractors and others who may be able to support the forest restoration effort.

Also, 700 acres are being treated using hand thinning operations on the steep slopes of the south side of Bill Williams Mountain. Because of the inability of most heavy equipment to reach these challenging areas, crews are carrying in chainsaws to accomplish the work.

Finally, more than 200 acres are being treated using mechanical thinning, meaning heavy equipment, along Forest Road 122, also known as the Twin Springs Road, south of Bill Williams Mountain. This treatment is intended to serve as a buffer for any wildfires that might get started south of the mountain. This is a particularly important place to treat given prevailing winds in northern Arizona and the typical direction of wildfire spread due to those winds. This is also a critical treatment due to the high recreational use in this area and the resulting potential for unwanted, human-caused wildfires that could pose threats to the mountain and to the Williams community.

“For many years, even decades, on the Kaibab National Forest, we have been working toward this goal of treating Bill Williams Mountain in a truly significant way that will help not only in terms of forest health but also community protection and public safety,” said Mike Uebel, fuels program manager for the Williams Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest and the implementation team leader for the Bill Williams Mountain Restoration Project. “To see all of the time, energy and preparation we’ve put into this effort turning into actual work on the ground is very rewarding and something we hope the Williams community will be pleased to see in action.”

Prescribed burning to continue near Tusayan

TUSAYAN – Crews plan to continue working on the Reed Prescribed Fire project east of Tusayan over the next few days and will likely begin on Friday of this week. Burning may continue into the week ahead providing weather conditions remain favorable for meeting forest health objectives and desired smoke dispersion.

Ignitions are set to continue on a 289 acre block approximately 4 miles east of Tusayan and just south of the East Rim Drive in the Grand Canyon National Park.

“The majority of smoke produced during daytime operations is expected to disperse away from sensitive areas, however we do expect some residual smoke to settle into drainages and low lying areas overnight.” said Quentin Johnson, Fire Management Officer on the Tusayan Ranger District. “Due to the proximity of these particular burn units located relatively close to town, our biggest challenge is trying to treat these acres with the least amount of smoke impact to the surrounding communities.”

Managers recognize the inconvenience smoke can cause and adjust tactics to limit the number of days smoke is in the air by burning smaller portions and only igniting every few days allowing ventilation to occur earlier and more rapidly. Among the many benefits of re-introducing fire to landscapes in these forested areas, broadcast burning is utilized to remove dead and down debris from ground surfaces over wide areas lessening the potential for a catastrophic wildfire.

Smoke may be visible from Highway 64 and from the communities of Grand Canyon, Valle and Tusayan. Overnight smoke impacts are expected to lift and ventilate rapidly each morning as ground surface temperatures warm in the morning hours.Officials remind motorists to always use caution when driving on roadways where visibility may potentially be impacted by smoke. Fire managers work closely with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, partners in the Grand Canyon National Park, as well as surrounding Native American tribes to monitor air quality.

For more information and the most current updates about prescribed fire on the Kaibab National Forest the following resources are available:

• Inciweb: inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5160/
• Fire Information Recorded Hotline: 928-635-8311
• Facebook: www.facebook.com/KaibabNF/
• Twitter: twitter.com/kaibabnf (Text ‘follow kaibabnf’ to 40404 to receive text messages.)
• Kaibab website “News & Events”: www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab

Fire managers to conduct prescribed fire southeast of Williams tomorrow

WILLIAMS – Fire managers for the South Zone of the Kaibab National Forest plan to treat up to 320 acres with prescribed fire tomorrow in the Sunflower Project area on the Williams Ranger District.

Specifically, fire managers plan to ignite the 320 acres in an area just south of Forest Road 139 and east of Hyde Hill about 8 miles southeast of the City of Williams. Ignitions should be complete by early afternoon, and fire managers do not anticipate conducting any other prescribed fires on the Williams Ranger District this week.

Smoke from tomorrow’s prescribed fire in the Sunflower Project area is expected to largely remain south of Williams and potentially impact Barney Flat and Cougar Park. It is possible that light smoke impacts may occur along County Road 73 and in Williams.

Prescribed fire projects require approval from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and are dependent on weather and wind conditions, so any project may be canceled if approval is not received or if conditions are not suitable. Members of the public can view approved prescribed fires for any given day on ADEQ’s website at http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/air/smoke/index.html. Prescribed fires on the Kaibab National Forest begin with the identifier “KNF.”

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

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

Notifications of upcoming prescribed fires are provided regularly by news releases throughout the season and also through the following resources:

Sign up to receive news releases from Kaibab NF: www.fs.fed.us/news/subscription.shtml (Choose “Southwestern Region.”)
Kaibab NF’s website: www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab (Look under “Recent News.”)
Kaibab NF’s Twitter account: www.twitter.com/KaibabNF (Text ‘follow kaibabnf’ to 40404 to receive text messages.)
Kaibab NF’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/KaibabNF
Kaibab NF’s Inciweb page for the South Zone (Williams and Tusayan Ranger Districts): https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5160/#
Kaibab NF’s Inciweb page for the North Zone (North Kaibab Ranger District and North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park): https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5632/#
Kaibab NF’s Fire Information Recorded Hotline: 928-635-8311

A map of the Sunflower Project area is provided below. The map shows the entire 15,195-acre Sunflower Project. Tomorrow, fire managers plan to burn only 320 acres in the northeast corner of the larger project area just south of Forest Road 139 and east of Hyde Hill.

North Kaibab Ranger District to host Holiday Open House

FREDONIA – The North Kaibab Ranger District will soon host a Holiday Open House at the Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center at Jacob Lake on Saturday, November 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There will be holiday music, cider and treats available for all ages, ornament decorating activity for families, and of course tree permits for sale.

As a reminder, the Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center will be open for Christmas tree tag sales from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on November 18 to 19 and November 25 to 26.

Christmas tree tags may also be purchased at the district office in Fredonia from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. In addition to the normal district office hours, Christmas tree tags may also be purchased from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on two Saturdays, November 25 and December 2. Please bring cash or check for North Kaibab Ranger District Christmas tree tag purchases.

For more information, call (928) 643-7395.

Fire Managers to Continue Hazardous Fuels Treatments at Moquitch

FREDONIA – U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service fire managers, working together as the North Zone Interagency Fire Management Program, plan to initiate the Moquitch-3 prescribed burn unit as early as Tuesday if weather, resources, and fuel moisture conditions remain favorable to assuring firefighter and visitor safety, while still achieving the desired objectives outlined during the planning process.

As anticipated conditions fall within prescriptive parameters over the weekend, firefighters will focus on treating approximately 2,000 acres on the east portion of the Moquitch-3 prescribed burn unit.

Additional details are as follows:

Fuels: The Moquitch 3 prescribed burn unit consists of vegetation that is predominantly ponderosa pine with scattered clumps of aspen and patches of New Mexico locust.

Location: The unit is located about 6 miles south of Jacob Lake.

Objectives: Reduce accumulations of hazardous fuels down to 5 tons-per-acre and stimulating aspen regeneration in areas where mature clones exist.

Smoke: Smoke impacts may include Jacob Lake, AZ Highway 67, AZ Highway 89A and forest roads directly along the burn unit boundary (see map for details).

Safety: During prescribed fires, motorists are cautioned that smoke may be present in short durations, which may impact roads and populated areas. Motorists 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.

Fire information: Additional information is made 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.

Kaibab National Forest to implement large grassland restoration project

WILLIAMS – The Kaibab National Forest will soon be able to begin implementation of a large-scale grassland restoration project across the Williams and Tusayan Ranger Districts thanks to a decision signed today by District Ranger Danelle D. Harrison.

The South Zone Grassland Restoration Project will implement thinning, prescribed fire and other activities to restore the structure and function of grassland and pinyon-juniper grassland, also referred to as savanna, ecosystems in an effort to improve their resilience to disturbance and changing climate regimes.

Specifically, Harrison’s decision allows for a combination of commercial and non-commercial mechanical treatments as well as prescribed fire on approximately 80,000 acres of grasslands and 63,000 acres of pinyon-juniper grasslands within the 550,000-acre project area, which covers large portions of both the Williams and Tusayan Ranger Districts of the Kaibab National Forest. These areas represent historical occurrences of grasslands and pinyon-juniper grasslands on the South Zone.

As part of these treatments, conifers – primarily juniper – will be selectively removed using mechanical means or hand thinning. Additionally, thinning will be used to restore connectivity between grassland habitats for wildlife species such as pronghorn antelope. Broadcast and pile burning will be used where necessary to reduce fuel loading, control regeneration of conifers, and promote understory plant vigor.The decision includes a number of other provisions including collaborating with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to both install wildlife waters in strategic locations to encourage the movement of ungulates and other wildlife species and to translocate populations of Gunnison prairie dogs to serve their role as a keystone species in grassland ecosystems and assist with the mixing of soil contents.

The purpose of this project is to restore the structure and function of the South Zone’s grasslands and pinyon-juniper grasslands by reducing tree densities, reestablishing natural fire regimes, and promoting grassland-associated wildlife species. As a result of historical livestock grazing, fire suppression, changes in wildlife populations, and climate change, these areas have experienced substantial encroachment and infilling by woody species over the last century. This has reduced habitat quality and connectivity, and impacted nutrient cycling and water availability.

“This decision is significant due to the important ecological role that grasslands play,” Harrison said. “We recognize the value of these ecosystems, and we also recognize that they have been greatly altered over the past century. The South Zone Grassland Restoration Project will help set us on a course to functioning, healthy grasslands that can support a variety of species.”

To review all analysis and documentation associated with the South Zone Grassland Restoration Project including the Final Environmental Assessment, a Final Finding of No Significant Impact, and a Final Decision Notice, please visit the Kaibab National Forest website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=44132.

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

Wildhorse Rx Complete

FREDONIA – – For Immediate Release. Ignition operations on the Wildhorse prescribed fire (Wildhorse Rx) were completed today. As a result, smoke from the prescribed burn is expected to result in more favorable smoke dispersion over the weekend. Fire managers estimate that approximately 2,813 acres of hazardous fuels have been treated since the project began this week on the North Kaibab Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest.

Over the weekend, resources will remain onsite and continue to monitor and patrol the Wildhorse and Tipover East prescribed fire projects.

Fire managers anticipate smoke impacts to lessen over the communities in Marble Canyon and Page, AZ, and traffic directly adjacent to the Wildhorse Rx Unit. Motorists are asked to remain cautious when traveling in and around these prescribed burn units, Arizona Highways 89A and 67 as smoke may intermittently impact these areas. Visitors are reminded to use caution, drive slowly, turn on headlights, and avoid stopping in areas where fire personnel is working.

Williams Ranger District nears completion of Green Base Prescribed Fire project

WILLIAMS – Unseasonably warm and dry weather conditions in northern Arizona have presented a unique opportunity for Fire Managers on the Williams Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest to successfully treat just under 9000 acres of densely forested area with prescribed fire over the month of October.

The Green Base Prescribed Fire project which is 9836 acres in size is nearly complete and officials expect to finish the final two blocks totaling 769 acres in one more day of ignitions.

The Kaibab National Forest is actively working to restore the historic fire regime of frequent, low-to-moderate intensity fires on the local landscape. Prescribed fires are conducted to consume accumulated build ups of forest litter and debris that can pose an imminent threat to adjacent communities. There are a number of additional benefits which include protection of wildlife habitat, historic heritage sites, large old growth timber stands, watersheds and infrastructure that fall within the urban interface where human development meets the forest.

“We fully recognize that smoke impacts can be unpleasant for residents in the vicinity of these burns” said Jeremy Human South Zone Fire Management Officer. “Managing smoke is often our biggest challenge during these type of operations and we are constantly adjusting our methods to decrease exposure. Burn days are specifically chosen by forecasted wind patterns that maximize ventilation away from residential areas. Attempting to manage smoke during an uncontrolled wildfire event can be impossible at times. Overall we feel we achieved that goal significantly reducing the number of days people actually experienced smoke along travel corridors and in their neighborhoods.”

Forest Officials want to thank residents for their continued support of this critical work being done. Public Safety and health remain a top priority and public concerns are always taken very seriously.

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.

Forest Service hiring for temporary positions for 2018 field season

From November 1-9, the Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, will be accepting applications for temporary spring and summer jobs in Arizona and New Mexico.

More information on temporary employment in the Forest Service’s Southwestern Region can be found at Centralized Temporary Hiring Outreach, including a link to the 2018 Outreach Notice with job listings for the Southwestern Region.

Applications must be submitted on www.USAJOBS.gov. Interested applicants are encouraged to create a profile within USAJOBS prior to the open vacancy announcement period.

Positions in the Southwestern Region of the Forest Service are available in multiple fields, including wildland fire, engineering, visitor services, archaeology, recreation management, timber management, range management, wildlife program management, business management, and other fields in natural resource management.

Positions will be filled at various locations within any of the 11 national forests in Arizona and New Mexico and the three national grasslands in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and west Texas.

To learn more about national forests and national grasslands in the agency’s Southwestern Region, please visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/r3.

The Forest Service is an equal opportunity employer. The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.