Cragin Watershed Protection Project

View of CC Cragin Reservoir behind the Cragin Watershed Protection Project logo

Reducing the risk of wildfire and post-fire flooding in the watersheds that lead to C.C. Cragin (formerly Blue Ridge) Reservoir.



June 1, 2017 - Public Comment Period: A public comment period on the preliminary Environmental Analysis for the project runs through July 1, 2017. See How to get involved for information on public meetings and submitting your comments.


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 southwest into Pine Canyon.

View from Baker Butte Lookout southwest into Pine Canyon: The forest around the tower will be proposed for thinning and prescribed burning treatment to reduce fuels in this area.

Photo (2015): Polly Haessig, USFS Coconino National Forest

View from Baker Butte Lookout looking east.

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

View from Moqui Lookout looking southwest towards Baker Butte.

View from Moqui Lookout looking southwest towards Baker Butte: The forest in this view is part of the CWPP project area.

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.


Environmental Analyis Public Comment Period 

A legal notice to establish a 30-day comment period was published in the Arizona Daily Sun on June 1, 2017. View the preliminary Environmental Assessment on the planning page. Comments may be submitted via or by attending one of the public comment meetings:


Stakeholders Group

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 ( or Andi Rogers (

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.