Smoke Impact Report

Fire Danger & Management | Smoke Reporting

 

Better Way to Think About Wildland Fires video

Watch A Better Way to Think About Wildfire to learn more about the importance and inevitability of wildland fire in the southwest. [YouTube]

Smoke impacts on local communities are often unforeseeable and unavoidable. Fire managers make their best effort to predict these impacts and provide information about potentially affected areas. The Coconino National Forest plans prescribed burns under the jurisdiction of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality's Smoke Management Division (ADEQ) to minimize smoke impacts from these types of fires.

Whether you are affected by a serious smoke impact, or just want us to know about smoke from a fire on the Coconino National Forest in your area, please share your experience with us by providing information about the smoke impact below. Sharing your experience helps us know when and where smoke impacts are occurring. However, it does not necessarily mean a prescribed burn or managed wildfire will be extinguished immediately, as fires cannot be turned off like a spigot. Once a burn has begun, it will almost always continue until completion because it is unsafe and often impossible to extinguish miles of fireline that is already moving across the landscape. Sometimes the weather unexpectedly changes and the smoke shifts to impact communities, and we don't have the option to just turn off a burn if that happens.

As well, fire on the landscape is an absolute necessity, as we live in a fire-dependent ecosystem. Fire and smoke will occur, and there is no option that removes fire and smoke. With current unhealthy and dense forest conditions, and living in an fire-dependent ecosystem, our choices consist of either:

  1. A prescribed burn or managed wildfire that produces less smoke and keeps the airsheds in a Good to Moderate Air Quality Index, or
  2. A severe uncontrollable wildfire that destroys property, the forest, and possibly lives, while producing severe thick smoke that creates airsheds that are Unhealthy to Hazardous.

Again, there is no option for removing fire and smoke completely. We encourage you to view "A Better Way to Think About Wildfire" for additional information and explanation.

About annual prescribed burn targets

Each National Forest is assigned required annual acreage amounts for prescribed burns from their respective Regional Office, which receives its regional annual acreage amount goal from Washington D.C.  Ultimately, target acres for prescribed burns are based on the amount of funds Congress allocates toward the Hazardous Fuels Reduction program, which trickles down across the nation to National Forests. This is an oversimplified explanation, but how it basically works.

We do not have the option of declining the assigned target acres given to us by our Regional Office.  Currently, the Coconino National Forest has been assigned 38,000 acres for Fiscal Year 2020. 

Since each National Forest is given targets to reach each year, and since burns can only occur on days that are favorable (meaning, safe to do so with the right conditions), the National Forests in the southwest often burn on the same days, as there are only a certain amount of windows available each year to burn.  This is where ADEQ comes in.  ADEQ is the state agency that looks at all of the burn plans across the state, considers smoke impacts, monitors the air quality, and allows or rejects plans for prescribed burns.

Unfortunately, target acres for prescribed burns for each National Forest have increased over the years because catastrophic wildfires have increased and these prescribed burns help reduce the risk of that happening and burning down communities. 

When you submit the form below...

...it is emailed to the Coconino National Forest Office of Public Affairs, which then routes your message to the appropriate Fire Management Officer (FMO) and District Ranger on the Coconino National Forest for their awareness. The private information you provide, such as your email and phone number, will be kept confidential and is not shared with the public in any way.

If you wish to be contacted regarding your submission, please let us know in your comments and provide an email address or phone number where we can contact you. We do our best to respond to as many submissions we receive, and thank you for taking the time to provide your comments. Submissions from individuals who use this as a form of yelling and ranting, and provide no contact information so a conversation cannot be held, will be deleted and not forwarded to the FMO or District Ranger.

Please know that we take smoke impacts seriously, but we cannot control every aspect of prescribed burns or wildfires. If you have health concerns about smoke, please read Health Effects of Smoke from Wildfire and Prescribed Burns from Coconino County's Public Health Services District for tips for protecting yourself and loved ones from the health impacts of wildland fire smoke.

If you wish to make a more formal complaint, you may contact our Southwestern Regional Office to voice your concerns, as well as your Congressional representatives, and ADEQ.

Jump to Glossary: Types of Fire

 

 

Types of Fires

  • Wildfire: A fire started naturally by lightning or human-caused.
  • Prescribed Fire: A fire created under a ‘prescription’ plan developed by many different specialists in order to treat a specific area with fire to reduce forest fuels and restore that area to healthier state. These fires are started by fire managers and include Broadcast Burning (applying fire along the forest floor with flames that are typically low to the ground) and Pile Burning (igniting ‘slash piles’ of branches and small tree trucks and debris from forest thinning projects). Learn more about prescribed fire.
  • Managed Wildfire for Multiple Objectives: A naturally-occurring wildfire that was started by lightning, which fire managers are allowing to burn safely at a low intensity and "creep" across the forest floor in order to maintain a healthy forest and ecosystem. This type of fire acts as a natural janitor cleaning and restoring the forest to a healthier condition, ultimately reducing build-up of down and dead wood and forest fuels, making it safer for communities and lessening the chances of a severe wildfires in that area. Learn more about managed wildfires

 

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