Prescribed burn project cancelled today due to unfavorable conditions

Release Date: Nov 8, 2023

Contact(s): Coconino National Forest Public Affairs, 928-224-8306

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., Nov. 8, 2023 – Mogollon Rim Ranger District fire managers have cancelled today’s Sawmill Project southwest of Mormon Lake due to unfavorable wind conditions that would negatively impact powerlines, the highway, and surrounding communities.

The 3,000-acre Sawmill project was originally scheduled to be completed over the course of the week from Nov. 6-9 but was modified to focus attention on a smaller 1,000-acre section today as winds and conditions were forecasted to keep smoke away from powerlines and surrounding communities. With the change in today’s conditions, this project will be postponed till a later date when conditions are more appropriate.

The Forest Service’s 10-year Wildfire Crisis Strategy aims to increase prescribed fire and other treatments across the landscape to improve forest resiliency for generations to come.

Fire managers make every effort to minimize impacts to communities but cannot promise impacts will never happen. Even with southwest winds that take smoke to the northeast during daytime hours, smoke acts like water in the evening hours and drains down nearby canyons, and most lead to Verde Valley. Sometimes predicted weather and winds shift from the original predicted forecast, which can also negatively affect communities with smoke impacts. These things cannot be controlled or mitigated.

Prescribed burns are necessary for two main reasons: to help create buffers around communities so that when a wildfire starts in extreme conditions, communities can have a fighting chance at protecting their homes and livelihood, and to help restore the forests to healthier conditions, as northern Arizona forests are fire-dependent ecosystems that require wildfire.

Prescribed burns mimic frequent low-intensity natural wildfires that clean up the forest like a janitor, promoting seed germination, wildlife habitat, and creating new growth that reduces erosion, as well as protect vital drinking-water watersheds from destruction due to catastrophic fire. These prescribed burn projects allow Mother Nature to fulfill her role and start righting the balance that has been so imbalanced for many years.

The Forest Service recognizes that smoke impacts can affect residents and visitors in addition to our fire personnel and will continue to coordinate closely with partners and communities to keep people informed about projects and potential smoke impacts. Affected communities can learn more through several resources such as: