Fire Restrictions and Closures Remain in Effect on Tonto National Forest for Fourth of July Holiday

PHOENIX, July 2, 2018 — For Immediate Release.  As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, the Tonto National Forest wants to remind visitors that Stage II Fire Restrictions and two area closures remain in place due to the extreme fire danger we are currently experiencing.  Visitors are also reminded that fireworks and all pyrotechnic devices are always prohibited on national forest lands.

Fire restrictions and area closures are implemented to prevent unwanted, human-caused fires and to protect human life, property and natural resources.  The potential exists for large, severe wildfires and the Tonto National Forest needs the public’s continued support preventing human-caused wildfires.  Stage II Fire Restrictions prohibit the following:

  • Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or charcoal-burning device including fires in developed campgrounds and improved sites
  • Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, or a developed recreation site.
  • Operating a chainsaw or any other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine between 9 am to 8 pm.
  • Discharging a firearm, air rifle or gas gun, except when engaged in a legal hunt in accordance with state, federal or tribal laws and regulations.
  • Welding or operating acetylene or other torches with an open flame.
  • Fireworks, explosives, or a pyrotechnic device are always prohibited.

In addition to Stage II fire restrictions which are in effect across the entire Tonto National Forest, there are two areas that have been closed to all public entry:

  • All Tonto National Forest Land north of Payson to the Forest boundary (Mogollon Rim) between the White Mountain Apache Reservation on the eastern boundary, and the Coconino National Forest on the western boundary.  The southern boundary of the closure starts at the Irving Trailhead and heads southeasterly along the powerline corridor to Arizona State Highway 87 into Payson then follows Arizona State Highway 260 east from Payson, along National Forest System Roads 405A and southeast along National Forest System Road 405, jogs south around Alderwood and Haigler Canyon Campgrounds, then southeast through Haigler Creek, to National Forest System Road 512 south to National Forest System Road 358, then east to the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation boundary.  National Forest System Road 583 from State Highway 87 will remain open for access to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park.  The Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery operated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department will be closed for public access (see link above for map and detailed area description).
  • All National Forest System Lands, roads and trails within the Mt. Ord, Four Peaks and Three Bar Wildlife areas, bounded by State Highway 87 on the west, State Highway 188 on the north and the Salt River corridor on the east including the north shores of Apache, Canyon and Saguaro lakes (see link above for map and detailed area description).

Violations of fire restrictions and area closures require a mandatory appearance in federal court, fines and possible jail time.  Use extra caution when recreating on public lands during this period of extreme fire danger.

Arizona’s monsoon season brings with it the potential for lightning, heavy rains and the potential for flash flooding, especially in areas impacted by recent wildfires on the Tonto National Forest including Pinal, Highline, Brooklyn, and Cedar burn scars.  Contact your local ranger district office if you have questions.  Take appropriate measures to keep yourself and your family safe.  Several factors lead to increased runoff and the risk of flooding including loss of vegetation (ground and canopy cover), loss of forest litter and the presence of water repellent soils.  When organic materials such as trees, needles, and leaves burn at high intensities, water repellent compounds form in the underlying soil.  These create a waxy, water repellent layer called hydrophobic soil.  The hydrophobic layer essentially acts as a sheet of plastic and moisture cannot penetrate it, increasing the potential for high runoff, flash flooding, and mud slides.  It can take up to four years for hydrophobic soil to regain its ability to absorb water.

Visitors to the Tonto National Forest are encouraged to check weather forecasts prior to enjoying their favorite recreation activities this summer, and plan accordingly.  Check the weather forecast before visiting fire impacted areas or nearby locations.  Flash floods can occur very quickly, even if the storm is not directly overhead.  If you encounter flood waters, move to higher ground immediately.  Do not attempt to walk or drive through flowing water.  Turn around, don’t drown, since only one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.  For more safety tips, visit https://www.ready.gov/floods.

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/tonto/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD585843