Apache-Sitgreaves Fuel Treatments, White Mtn. Stewardship, & the San Juan Fire

White Mountain Stewardship Project (WMS) and wildlife habitat treatments aid in moderating fire behavior on the San Juan fire. In addition to the Coon Mountain prescribed fire, completed in November of 2012, also assisted firefighters in controlling the San Juan Fire by reducing hazardous fuels and removing decadent brush. Funding and support where provided by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the Habitat Partnership committee. The Burn was completed by fire personnel from the Springerville, Alpine, and Lakeside Ranger Districts. 

“The Forest Service has learned what it takes to manage for a healthier, vibrant, fire-resilient landscape. The tool is thinning and burning.  The reality of it is that all 155 forests are all competing for the same dollars to make their forests healthier.  We’ve again witnessed the effectiveness of treatments in reducing fire intensities, allowing crews to work safely in close proximity to the fire,” Jim Zornes, Forest Supervisor stated.

Due to prior fuel treatments, Wallow firefighters were able to safely suppress the fire faster, which allowed them more time to protect homes.  Hundreds of homes were saved compared to the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski when hundreds of homes were lost.  Now, the San Juan Fire was stopped in many areas where thinning was administered to the south of the community of Vernon.

Here are the projects the White Mountain Stewardship has left as a lasting legacy to the 10 years of work on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. Dwayne Walker, contractor for the project said, “The project saved the ASNFs  funds normally spent in fire suppression; thinning 30,000 plus acres proves collaboration and partnerships work.”

Alpine Wildland-Urban Interface Treatment Area

As the crown fire entered the Alpine Wildland-Urban Interface Fuel Treatment Area, the tree crowns were too widely spaced for the blaze to continue moving from treetop to treetop. As a result, the fire lost its power and intensity and dropped to the ground.

The Amberon Point Fuel Treatment Area

A small, strategically placed fuel treatment on the south side of Greer at Amberon Point served as a successful and effective “anchor point” to protect many structures in this community. Rob Lever, Springerville District Fire Management Officer, confirms that this and other completed fuel treatments allowed firefighters to actively suppress the fire in this pivotal area. Firefighters began conducting burnout operations in the adjacent fuel treatment areas. These fire suppression actions enabled the firefighters to move out in front of the head of the fire—successfully protecting multiple homes and various structures.

North Greer Fuel Treatment Area

When the high-intensity crown fire burned downhill into this treatment area, the flames reduced and diminished to a surface fire—enabling firefighters to actively engage in fire suppression operations. In addition, some of the area above the line was treated by private landowners, often with grants from state and local government.

White Mountain Stewardship Treatment Area

As the Wallow Fire entered White Mountain Stewardship Fuel Treatment units located above Alpine, AZ, the blaze dropped from up in the tree crowns down to the surface level, slowing the fire’s rate-of-spread dramatically.  Thanks to the influence of these previously developed treatment units—flame lengths were low enough to allow firefighters to safely attack the fire and protect homes and property.

Click here for a map that shows the relationship between the San Juan Fire and Treatments