Current Information on Prescribed (RX) Fires on the Forest
All prescribed burning is subject to approval by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. For additional information about the Smoke Management Division of the ADEQ and to view prescribed burn authorizations, please visit: legacy.azdeq.gov/environ/air/smoke/index.html
Central Arizona Forests & Fire
In Central 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.
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 and 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. Prescott National Forest's approved burns will have a "Burn #" beginning with "PNF." Use the Prescott NF Map to find the specific Township/Range/Section listed on the approval site.
Messages will be posted to social media when managed fires are ignited on the Prescott National Forest:
Local Ranger Stations:
- Bradshaw Ranger District 928-443-8000
- Chino Valley Ranger District 928-777-2200
- Verde Ranger District 928-567-4121
File a complaint with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ): ADEQ provides final approval for prescribed burn activity throughout the state. If you are affected by smoke from a prescribed burn in the state of Arizona, you can file a formal complaint.
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.
- Shrub regeneration creates nesting areas for small birds and provides food from flowers and fruit for insects and small mammals.
Additional Resources and Information
- Watch the Keeping Fire on the Ground: Resource Specialist Perspectives video about the importance of wildland fire in our northern Arizona forests.
- Watch Paul Hessburg's November 7, 2017 TED Talk Living (Dangerously) in the Era of Megafires and Why Wildfires Have Gotten Worse - and What We Can Do About It
- PNF Fire Management Officer Brian Steinhardt on Verde Valley TV talking about Prescribed Burns and Hiring Firefighters (November 2016)
- PNF Fuels Manager (Retired) Scott Spleiss on Verde Valley TV talking about Why National Forests Sometimes Have to Burn During Fire Restrictions
Prescott National Forest Information
- Wildfire Smoke - A Guide for Public Officials: Guide to help local public health officials prepare for smoke events, take measures to to protect the public when smoke is present, and communicate with the public about wildfire smoke and health.