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.”

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.

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

Williams City Council meets Thursday

WILLIAMS – The City of Williams City Council will meet Thursday, November 9 at 7 p.m. at 113 S. First Street.

After normal administrative items, the following presentations will be made:

  1. Greater Williams Community Fund-Who they are and what they do.
  2. Historic Photo Project-Progress, Goals and Accomplishments by Andrea Dunn & Margaret Hangan
  3. Grand Canyon Racing “Thank you” to Mayor, Hoch Ortiz and David Garibay. Judge Krombeen

After the meeting is public participation. The Council cannot act upon items presented during the public participation portion of the agenda. Individual Council members may ask questions of the public or may respond to any criticisms, but the members are prohibited by the open meeting law from discussing or considering the items among themselves until the time that the matter is officially placed on the agenda. The open meeting law does, however, allow the City Council to ask staff to review a matter or ask that it be placed on a future Council agenda.

The rest of the agenda consists of:

  1. Approval of Purchase Orders
  2. Approval of Check Register for Month Ending October 31, 2017
  3. Council will discuss and may make a decision regarding a request from the Williams Hospital District Board of Directors to waive the building fees required for construction of the new healthcare facility at 301 S. 4th Street.
  4. Council will discuss and may make a decision to purchase a Lowboy 50T Trailer.
  5. Previously tabled item: Council will discuss and may make a decision to hire a codification firm to codify the William’s City Code.
  6. Council will discuss and may make a decision to purchase a new network recording system for the PD’s dispatch.
  7. Council will discuss and may approve a proposed Task list from the City’s Engineer.

Halloween safe alternatives available in Williams

Halloween is coming and there is a safe way to get through the Halloween season.

Instead of wax candles in your jack-o-lantern, you could use the battery operated type or even flashlights. Make sure you do not overload your household circuit with plugin lights. Make sure the lights you use outdoors are designed for outdoor use.

Arizona Game and Fish issued a notice that jack-o-lanterns may attract wildlife so they recommend that you keep them indoors in your window. Remember we still have skunks about. In addition you won’t find your hours of carving work smashed on the roadway.

Costumes should be light and reflective. If you have already purchased dark costumes, use glow sticks, reflective vests or flashlights.

When the kids go out to trick-or-treat, they should stay in the neighborhood where you know the neighbors. Younger children should be accompanied by an adult or older sibling. Make sure they know not to eat any candy before adults can inspect it. They should not trick-or-treat too late after dark.

After dark, or instead of trick-or-treat, you could visit one of the churches having fall festival activities. The First Baptist Church and Family Harvest Church across the street from Safeway have such safe alternatives. The Methodist Church on 2nd and Grant will once again sponsor trunk-or-treat. They hand out candy from their cars and have food and games besides.

The Tunnel of Doom haunted house is open again this year at 1099 Allison Way after dark until 9 p.m.

Whatever activities you choose during this season, we wish you a safe season.

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.

Kaibab National Forest to offer Christmas tree permits starting November 16

WILLIAMS – The Kaibab National Forest will sell over-the-counter and through-the-mail Christmas tree tags on a first-come, first-served basis for each of its three ranger districts beginning November 16 and continuing until they are sold out.

The $15 permit will allow the holder to cut a tree of any species that is not more than 10 feet in height within a designated area on the Kaibab National Forest from Nov. 16 through Dec. 24. The tag is only good for a tree on the ranger district from which it was purchased and can’t be used to cut a tree on a different district unless specifically noted. No refunds will be made, even if weather conditions prevent access to cutting areas.

Individuals who purchase tags will be provided with a map showing their designated cutting area along with additional tree cutting instructions. The number of available tags and tree species, locations and hours for purchasing the permits, and contact information for each ranger district are as follows:

# of Permits Available and Tree Species Location of Designated Cutting Area Contact Information Open Days and Hours
800

Any Species

North Kaibab Ranger District

Note: The Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Nov. 26 for tag sales. The visitor center is located at the intersection of highways 89 and 67 in Jacob Lake and can be reached at (928) 643-7298.

 

Physical address:        430 S. Main St., Fredonia, AZ 86022

Mailing address:        P.O. Box 248,    Fredonia, AZ 86022

(928) 643-7395

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. The office will also be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on two Saturdays, Nov. 25 and Dec. 2, for tag sales.

Note: Please bring cash or check for North Kaibab Ranger District Christmas tree tag purchases.

500

Any Species

Tusayan Ranger District Physical address:        176 Lincoln Log Loop, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Mailing address:        P.O. Box 3088,       Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

(928) 638-2443

8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
500

Any Species

 

Williams Ranger District

Note: The Williams Ranger District office will also have 100 tags available for the Tusayan Ranger District.

 

Physical and mailing address:                      742 S. Clover Rd., Williams, AZ 86046

(928) 635-5600

8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

Individuals desiring to purchase Christmas tree tags through the mail should contact the appropriate ranger district office for information on the required process. Turnaround time for arrival of tags through the mail is often 10 business days, so individuals desiring these tags should call well in advance to ensure adequate time for their permits to arrive.

The Kaibab National Forest is also pleased to announce that all fourth graders are eligible for a free Christmas tree permit, while supplies last, through the Every Kid in a Park initiative. Every Kid in a Park is a nationwide call to action to connect kids to nature. All fourth graders are eligible to receive a fourth grade pass that allows free access to federal lands and waters across the country for a full year.

In support of this initiative, the Forest Service is making available a free Christmas tree permit to every interested fourth grader with a fourth grade pass or paper voucher. For additional information about the initiative and how to obtain a pass, visit www.everykidinapark.gov. To be eligible for a free Christmas tree permit from the Kaibab National Forest, all fourth graders must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and present their fourth grade pass or paper voucher.

Forest Service seeks public input on issuance of new permit to operate Elk Ridge Ski Area near Williams

WILLIAMS – The Kaibab National Forest is seeking input and responding to any inquiries members of the public may have regarding issuance of a new permit to operate the Elk Ridge Ski Area near Williams.

The Forest Service is considering issuance of a new term permit to reflect a change in the ownership of the ski area, which is being purchased by Arizona Snowbowl to include in the Mountain Capital Partners collection of resorts – Arizona Snowbowl, Purgatory Resort, Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, and Hesperus Ski Area.

The issuance of the new term permit by the Kaibab National Forest is dependent on evaluation and acceptance of an application from Arizona Snowbowl and would be for assuming the current operations at Elk Ridge starting this winter. No changes to existing facilities or operations would be authorized with the issuance of this new term permit.

Following issuance of a new permit, Arizona Snowbowl may propose updates to the facility master plan in the future, which would be considered by the Forest Service in a separate environmental analysis in accordance with requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Elk Ridge Ski Area encompasses 37 acres and is located on Bill Williams Mountain on the Williams Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest. The current ski area term permit authorizes public operation of the ski area during the winter from November through April to provide downhill skiing and tubing opportunities.

Existing improvements within the permit area boundary include two surface lifts, a ski lodge, a parking area, eight cleared ski and tubing runs, and other supporting infrastructure. Under current conditions, some of the existing ski area improvements will require considerable maintenance and repairs and possible replacement. Summer operations include maintenance activities and infrequent, small special events held at the lodge, which are approved on a case-by-case basis by the Forest Service.

The issuance of a new permit for an existing ski area is considered an administrative change when the only modification is in ownership of ski area improvements.

Members of the public with questions or seeking to provide comments about the issuance of a new term permit should do so no later than Nov. 3 by contacting Liz Schuppert, Public Services Staff Officer, Kaibab National Forest, 800 S. Sixth Street, Williams, Arizona 86046; telephone 928-635-8367; fax 928-635-8208, or e-mail comments-southwestern-kaibab-williams@fs.fed.us.

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

Interstate 40 eastbound ramp closure in Williams begins Tomorrow

The Arizona Department of Transportation has scheduled daytime weekday closures of the I-40 eastbound off-ramp at Exit 161 in Williams beginning Tuesday, October 3. The required closures will increase productivity for the I-40 Devil Dog to Williams paving underway. The ramp restriction will be in effect weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Friday, October 13.

Detour signage will be in the area, and drivers can find alternative access via the off-ramp at Exit 163, located two miles east of the required closure. Please use caution and watch for construction personnel and equipment in the construction zone.

Schedules are subject to change based on weather and other unforeseen factors. For more information, please call Coralie Cole, ADOT community relations project manager, at 602.501.4899 or ccole@azdot.gov. For real-time highway conditions statewide, visit the ADOT Traveler Information site at www.az511.gov, follow ADOT on Twitter (@ArizonaDOT) or call 511, except while driving.

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.