Flagstaff, AZ (5/31/23) – Over the next few weeks, the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management (DFFM) implements two prescribed burn projects to reduce hazardous fuel on State Trust land and safeguard communities within Coconino County.
Observatory RX Burn:
The 750-acre Observatory project is a broadcast burn located five miles west of Flagstaff, west of the Naval Observatory, and directly south of Interstate 40. The project incorporates State Trust Land and Flagstaff-area Wildland Urban Interface and provides for wildfire risk reduction and benefits forest health. The project area consists of a Ponderosa Pine environment with blocks broken out by roads, previously prepped hand lines, dozer lines, and topographical features. Project managers will implement strategies to limit smoke impacts to I-40 and nearby communities, including Bellemont and neighborhoods within the Flagstaff-area. The project will be broken into multiple blocks and may take a few days to complete in an effort to reduce smoke impacts and mitigate the drifting and settling of smoke. Project managers originally planned this burn for mid-May, but due to unfavorable weather conditions they paused the project at that time. While all efforts are being taken to mitigate and reduce smoke, the public should expect some impacts.
Crater Sinks RX Burn:
The 500-acre Crater Sinks project is also a broadcast burn, located southwest of Flagstaff and west of State Route 89A. The State Trust land project helps to reduce overloaded fuel and reduces wildfire risk to nearby communities. This DFFM project coincides with a nearby, federal project which ultimately allows both agencies to target and treat more acres collectively to protect property and infrastructure. Smoke off this project may impact SR 89A and surrounding communities with overnight smoke possibly settling into upper Oak Creek Canyon.
Firing operations tentatively begin on both projects the morning of Thursday, June 1, 2023, and are planned daily until both projects are completed. However, ignitions are always weather dependent and work can be delayed, postponed, or cancelled due to unsafe or unfavorable conditions and crew availability. All prescribed burns, whether broadcast or pile burns, must have approval from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality prior to ignitions. The public can view approved prescribed burns on ADEQ’s website: smoke.azdeq.gov. Prescribed fire information can also be found by downloading the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management’s app on the iTunes and Google Play stores.