PRESCOTT, AZ – November 6, 2019 – Beginning this week, a contractor will be using heavy equipment to thin trees on 505 acres of Prescott National Forest land. The Francis Stewardship Project is located west of the City of Prescott between Copper Basin Road and Thumb Butte Road. Thinning operations will initially start in the area near Camp Stein which is located near Copper Basin Road.
Thinning operations are dependent on weather and soil conditions, but visitors can expect equipment to be in the area for the next 2-4 months. Several sections of the project are located adjacent to the Prescott Circle Trail. As the contractor moves through the area, portions of the Circle Trail and other system trails will be periodically closed and trail users will be re-routed to other system trails. In addition, the Aspen Creek Trailhead, located on Copper Basin Road, could be closed during a portion of this time.
As the operator moves through the project area, numerous signs will be posted to make trail users aware of thinning operations, the status of trail closures as well as alternate routes. Measures will be taken to protect the surface of trails and impacts will be remedied by the contractor and the Forest Service as needed. In addition, there will be increased truck traffic along Copper Basin Road, Thumb Butte Loop and Thumb Butte Road.
At present, operations will focus the area around Camp Stein and Camp UCYC ‘The Springs’, specifically portions of Trail 393 and Trail 327 which both make up the Prescott Circle Trail as well as Trail 391 and Forest Road 51 will be closed in order to maintain public safety. Alternative routes include Trail 366 and Forest Road 9707T, which go from Thumb Butte Loop to Forest Road 51.
The good news for trail users with this project starting is that the new trails and trailheads approved for construction in the Greater Prescott Trails Plan can begin when this project is completed, providing numerous new trail recreation opportunities in the area.
Prescott National Forest personnel will also ensure that agency approved events will experience only minimal interruptions. Until mechanical operations are concluded, estimated to be in early 2020, Forest Managers recommend that visitors take advantage of recreational opportunities on the north side of Thumb Butte Road, Spence Basin, Granite Basin Recreation Area, or the Lynx Lake Recreation area.
The intent of the project is to improve the health and resiliency of fire-adapted ecosystems while simultaneously reducing hazardous fuels that pose a threat to life and property in the Wildland-Urban Interface.
Visitors of the Prescott National Forest can obtain additional information via the following:
· Prescott NF Forest Website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/prescott/
· Twitter: @PrescottNF
· Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PrescottNF
· Bradshaw Ranger District, (928) 443-8000