Cragin Watershed Protection Project
Reducing the risk of wildfire and post-fire flooding in the watersheds that lead to C.C. Cragin (formerly Blue Ridge) Reservoir.
The Town of Payson plans on drawing approximately 3,000 acre feet of water per year from C.C. Cragin Reservoir, beginning in 2018. The reservoir is directly fed by three main watersheds that sit atop the Mogollon Rim: East Clear Creek-Blue Ridge Reservoir, Bear Canyon, and Miller Canyon. These areas—all priority watersheds that receive heavy recreation use—have the potential for severe wildfire, which would result in large amounts of sediment and ash transported from the watersheds into the reservoir.
Forest thinning along with prescribed and maintenance burning in these areas is crucial and necessary to prevent damage and destruction to the watersheds, C. C. Cragin Reservoir which will supply water to the Town of Payson, critical habitat for wildlife and fish (Mexican spotted owl and Little Colorado spinedace), and the pipeline, project overhead power line and other reservoir facilities.
The Forest Service, the Salt River Project, Bureau of Reclamation, National Forest Foundation and the Town of Payson are partners on this project and have established a joint program to proactively improve the health of the three watersheds and adjacent lands surrounding the reservoir.
The Coconino National Forest has begun the planning process - an in-depth, science-based environmental analysis identified by the National Environmental Policy Act - to analyze the hazardous fuel situation in the watersheds, develop a Proposed Action of treatments and determine the impacts treatments may have on the resources of concern. The planning process is expected to be completed in 2017 with implementation to begin soon after.
The project area is approximately 64,000 acres located north of Payson, Pine, and Strawberry AZ between Forest Road 300 on the edge of the Mogollon Rim and Highway 87. Not all 64,000 acres will receive fuels reduction treatments. Treatments will include a combination of thinning and fire treatments (prescribed fire and maintenance burning), but the specific locations and treatments will be determined through the planning process occurring over the next two years.
Please visit the Cragin Watershed Protection Project planning page to view documents related to the formal planning process. The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) has detailed answers to the most common questions about the project.
Photos of the Project Area
Click on the thumbnail images below to open a larger view in a new window.
View from Baker Butte Lookout looking east: The forest in this view will be examined for treatment opportunities to reduce fuels. The smoke in the distance is from the 2015 General Fire.
Photo (2015): Polly Haessig, USFS Coconino National Forest
How to get involved
We rely heavily on public input throughout the planning process and encourage you to be engaged. Your feedback will help drive the analysis and shape the final decision of this project. We accept comments anytime, but there are formal commenting opportunities as well. Comments may be submitted via firstname.lastname@example.org or by attending one of the public comment meetings:
- March 2, 2016 6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. at Payson Unified District Boardroom, 902 W. Main St., Payson, AZ
- March 5, 2016 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at Starlight Pines Community Cente,r 2740 Arapaho Dr., Happy Jack, AZ
You may also consider being even more actively involved though a group of stakeholders formed for the CWPP formed to support planning for this project. The National Forest Foundation is leading a short-term, collaborative process. If you are interested in participating in this collaborative effort or learning more, contact Marcus Selig (email@example.com) or Andi Rogers (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please also feel free to direct any questions or suggestions to the Linda Wadleigh, District Ranger at 928-477-5001 or to the Project Manager, Polly Haessig at 928-477-5007.
In the News
Photo (banner): C.C. Cragin (aka Blue Ridge) Reservoir (2013). Credit: Brady Smith, USFS Coconino National Forest.