Effective the morning of June 1st, the Prescott NF will be implementing a partial/area closure of the Forest on the Bradshaw Ranger District. In an attempt to balance public access to public lands, minimize impacts to local economies, and address potential suppression challenges, this area was selected after more than a week of analysis and a final decision by the Forest’s Line Officers late Friday.
To help answer questions in the community, we will be hosting an open-house on Wednesday, May 30 as mentioned in the news release below.
Area Closure Implemented on the Bradshaw Ranger District
PRESCOTT, AZ (May 23, 2018) — For Immediate Release- Due to increasing drought conditions, very high fire danger and public safety concerns, the Prescott National Forest will implement an area closure on the Bradshaw Ranger District Friday June 1st, 2018 at 8:00 AM. Areas outside of the closure will remain in Stage II Fire Restrictions.
Bradshaw Ranger District Area Closure Description
Starting on the northwest corner of the closure area at the Prescott National Forest (PNF) boundary and County Road 10 (Iron Springs Road) intersection. Following County Road 10 north and east to the intersection of FSR 74 (County Rd 120, Skyline Drive). Following Forest Service Road (FSR) 74 south to non-motorized Trail 264. Following Trail 264 south and east to FSR 373 (Thumb Butte Road). Following FSR 373 south/southeast to FSR 9402C. Following FSR 9402C to the Mount Francis Non-Motorized Fuel Break. Following the Mount Francis Non-Motorized Fuel Break south/southeast to meet State Hwy 89 (White Spar Road). Following State Hwy 89 northeast to the junction of Indian Creek Road (County Rd 102). Following Indian Creek Road (CR 102) to National Forest/Ponderosa Park private property boundary. Following National Forest/Ponderosa Park boundary south then east to County Rd 101 (Ponderosa Park Road). Following County Rd 101 south to the junction of FSR 97B. Following FSR 97B south to FSR 667. Following FSR 667 south and east to FSR 9403C. Following FSR 9403C north and east to National Forest/private property boundary. Following the National Forest/private property boundary south and west to FSR 52B. Following FSR 52B to FSR 52 (Senator Hwy). Following FSR 52 south and east to County Rd 59 (Crown King Rd). Following County Rd. 59 north and east to the Prescott National Forest (PNF) boundary. Then following the PNF boundary south until it turns to the west. Then following the PNF boundary west until it turns north. Then following the PNF boundary north until it turns west again. Then following the PNF boundary west across the eastern intersection of County Road 60 and continuing to the western intersection of PNF boundary and County Rd. 60. Following County Rd. 60 north and west to the PNF boundary. Then following the PNF boundary north back to where it intersects with County Rd. 10 (Iron Springs Road).
All approved vehicle travel roads, and non-motorized trails which the closure boundary parallels but does not overlay are open for public use except for the following prohibited roads:
· Forest Road 97B
· Forest Road 9403C
· Note: Traveling upon Forest Fuel breaks is prohibited.
The Prescott NF reminds concerned citizens that forest closures are not taken lightly, as they affect many people, businesses, partner agencies, important restoration and other work on the forest, and the public. When forest closures are in effect, the public is prohibited from entering the closed areas. Exceptions may be made for Forest Service personnel conducting official business, certain contractors, and permit holders. The Forest Service cannot deny private land owners access to their land which may include access through the Forest. Fire Managers ask our neighbors to be vigilant and careful as they access private land.
This area closure has been in the planning phases for nearly two weeks and is part of a larger process that includes multiple criteria to determine the level of extra precautions. Earlier this spring, Stage I and the current Stage II Fire Restrictions are part of this process. Stage II has been very effective to date. The closure to be implemented on June 1st addresses a significant portion of the Forest that is relatively inaccessible to firefighters and has large expanses of dry chaparral vegetation and few hazardous fuel treatments.
Visitors and neighbors to the Forest can play a critical role in decreasing activities that may cause a wildfire by being vigilant and watching out for violations and reporting wildfires immediately. The Prescott National Forest particularly requests the assistance of those who live within or adjacent to the Forest boundary to redeem your responsibility that comes with the choice to live within the Wildland-Urban interface: be vigilant, be careful, and be prepared to evacuate. It is important for all citizens, neighbors, and visitors to recognize that fire restrictions and forest closures cannot prevent deliberate illegal conduct, carelessness along roadways or on private lands, or fire ignitions caused by non-human factors (e.g. downed powerlines).
Law enforcement and fire prevention patrols have been increased on all districts along with additional fire suppression resources stationed here. Information is being disseminated far and wide about forest conditions and the need to be extremely careful when using the forest. The public can help by spreading the word, reporting violators, and making sure their homes and communities are Fire-wise. While most defensible space activities should have been completed by now, it’s not too late. Please use caution in mowing or using heavy equipment. Due to current conditions, limit current efforts to protect property to those things that cannot cause a fire (e.g. moving wood piles away from the house, cleaning roofs and gutters, weed eating with nylon trimmers, etc.).
When it comes to implementing both fire restrictions and closures, community sentiment is always a major consideration for Forest Leadership. We balance the need for restrictions with allowing public access to the National Forest and limiting the economic impacts to neighboring communities.
We hear a range of opinions and comments from our local community members and our visitors and consider these very seriously in our decisions about what level of restrictions or closures to implement and when best to implement. Forest Leadership carefully decide which areas meet specific criteria for closure, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Fire danger: Areas where the moisture content level of live and dead vegetation is extremely low.
- Vulnerability: Areas that are most vulnerable to fire suppression efforts due to inaccessibility, limited resources, and are difficult to evacuate visitors quickly and safely.
- Values at risk from wildfire: Values such as life, critical watersheds, trailheads, campgrounds, utility corridors, private property, communities, and critical infrastructure, etc.
- Topography: Areas with steep slopes and canyons that are difficult to access and effectively suppress wildfires, hazardous areas for firefighters, and areas which often align with traditional wind directions.
Closures and fire restrictions will be lifted when sufficient precipitation is received to adequately reduce the risk of wildfire, and hot, dry weather conditions are not forecast to continue.
Interested community members who would like more information on current forest conditions, fire restrictions and the area closure; the Prescott NF will be hosting an open-house:
When: Wednesday, May 30, 6:00PM – 7:00PM
Where: Embry Riddle Davis Learning Center & Auditorium
20 Hunt Drive, Prescott, Arizona 86301
Violating any fire restrictions is a violation that carries a mandatory appearance in federal court, punishable as a Class B misdemeanor with a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or up to six months in prison, or both.
The public can obtain additional fire information via the following:
· Arizona Fire Restrictions: https://firerestrictions.us/az
· Public Lands in Arizona: www.wildlandfire.AZ.gov or call 1-877-864-6985
· Prescott National Forest Web Site: https://www.fs.usda.gov/prescott/
· Local Ranger Stations: Bradshaw Ranger District, (928) 443-8000; Chino Valley Ranger District (928) 777-2200; Verde Ranger District (928) 567-4121