Prescribed Fires and Smoke

 

Rogue River Hotshots Igniting an Rx BurnIn northern Arizona, we love our forests. Our forests are the setting for various recreational activities and provide the backdrop for our community. But, while it may not always be evident, our forests are sick. Many parts of our forest are susceptible to insect infestations, disease, and catastrophic wildfire. It is because of our love of our forest, and our desire to improve its health that we prescribe fire. Much like a doctor prescribes medication to a sick patient, Forest Service managers sometimes prescribe fire to improve the health of our local forests. [MORE]

 

Prescribed burns are termed such because they are conducted within a “prescription” that defines the fuel moisture levels, air temperatures, wind conditions, and relative humidity levels that are appropriate for each project. 

All prescribed fire activity is dependent on personnel availability, fuel conditions, weather – including ventilation conditions, and approval from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).

Fire managers strive to minimize smoke impacts to the community by working closely with ADEQ, partners in the Ponderosa Fire Advisory Council, as well as neighboring forests to monitor air quality. Tactics to keep smoke impacts as minimal as possible include canceling approved burns when conditions aren’t favorable, finding alternative uses for the debris in slash piles, timing daytime ignitions to allow the majority of smoke time to disperse prior to settling overnight, and burning larger sections at a time to ultimately limit the number of days smoke is in the air.


Prescribed Fire Information:

When burn season begins, approved projects and their technical locations are posted daily to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality approval site. The Coconino's approved burns will have a "Burn #" beginning with "COF".  Use the Coconino NF Map to find the specific Township/Range/Section listed on the approval site.

  • Prescribed Fire Recorded Hotline: 928-226-4607
  • Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CoconinoNF
  • Local Ranger Stations: Flagstaff Ranger District (Flagstaff), 928-526-0866; Red Rock Ranger District (Sedona) 928-203-2900; Mogollon Rim Ranger District (Blue Ridge) 928-477-2255

Benefits of Prescribed Burning

  • Reduces fuel build-up.
  • Dead wood, overcrowded, unhealthy trees, and thick layers of pine needles can all contribute to catastrophic wildfires including crown fires.
  • Prepares the land for new growth.
  • When excess vegetation or needle layers are burned off, nitrogen and other nutrients are released into the soil and become available for new plants to grow.
  • Helps certain plants/trees germinate.
  • Many native plant and forest communities have adapted to fire for their germination and growth. Seed contact with soil (such as that exposed by a fire) is necessary for some species to naturally regenerate.
  • Naturally thins overcrowded forests.
  • Historically, natural fire thinned the forests. Thinned forests can recover faster and are more resistant to insect and disease attacks. Currently, many of the mature forests are overcrowded, resulting in a lack of vigor and health.
  • Creates diversity needed by wildlife.
  • Fire provides diverse habitat for plants and animals. Grazing wildlife such as Elk and Deer benefit from new growth as shrubs produce edible leaves when re-sprouting after a fire.



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