Archive for the ‘Tonto News’ Category

Arizona wilderness news round-up for November 2012

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Here’s what’s happening in and around the wilder country of Arizona:

Forest Service to Offer Workshop in Williams on Applying for Jobs

WILLIAMS, Ariz. – The Kaibab and Coconino National Forests are offering a workshop in Williams on applying for Forest Service jobs. The workshop is sponsored by the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests’ Civil Rights Action Group.

The workshop is scheduled for the following date, time and location.

• Nov. 28; 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

• Williams High School Library, 440 S. 7th St., Williams

• Contact: Margaret Hangan, (928) 635-8342, mhangan@fs.fed.us

Participants in the workshop will receive guidance and training on applying for permanent and seasonal Forest Service jobs. Current employees will be available to help lead individuals through the application process.

The workshops are intended for anyone interested in applying for Forest Service jobs. However, to be considered for employment, applicants must be 18 years of age or older at the time they begin work.

Information will be available on local, nationwide, seasonal and permanent positions with the agency. Career fields within the Forest Service include fire, range, timber, recreation, wildlife biology, botany, geology, hydrology, law enforcement, human resources, budget administration and more.

To view information about employment on the Kaibab National Forest, please visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/kaibab/employment. To view information about employment on the Coconino National Forest, please visit www.fs.usda.gov/main/coconino/about-forest/jobs.

 

Game and Fish launches new “Recreational Access Arizona” web mapping tool

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has launched an exciting new web-based mapping tool, “Recreational Access Arizona,” that provides hunters, anglers, and other outdoor recreationists with important information about access to and through private lands.

The free tool, which utilizes GIS mapping technology, is available at www.azaccessmap.com.

Recreational Access Arizona was developed as part of the Game and Fish Department’s efforts to secure, maintain and enhance public recreational access to private lands, or to federal or state-owned lands that are “land-locked” by private lands. It provides a wealth of other information as well.

Want to see the boundaries of the Game Management Unit you’re in or where water catchments are located? Are you interested in what wildlife species are in a particular area? All the information is available with the click of a mouse anywhere on the map. The more places you click, the more information you can find.

To help get you started, just click on the “How to Use the Map” link in the upper right-hand corner of the page after you’ve logged on.

Even more exciting is that you can create your own map using this tool with a topographic map, aerial images, or street maps as the background. Just export the map you make and print it out on your home printer, or take it in to a printing service to print a large map.

Development and maintenance of this tool was made possible through a grant that Game and Fish received from the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, which is a federal program authorized in the 2012 Farm Bill.

The department plans to add information that is useful to hunters and other outdoor recreationists over time, so users are encouraged to use the “Send Comments” link in the upper right-hand portion of the web page to e-mail comments for consideration.

For more information, visit www.azaccessmap.com.

It is this author’s opinion that this site is actually really, really cool – but I look at maps for fun!

 

Tonto NF Has No Plan to manage wild horses

So rumors of a round-up/slaughter are just rumors. From Neil Bosworth, Forest Supervisor:

Phoenix (June 11, 2012) — There is apparently misinformation circulating on the internet and in the media that there is to be a “roundup” and “slaughter” of horses on the Tonto National Forest.

We have been contacted by many people to express their concerns and would like to reassure them:  There is no formalized plan for managing the horses on the forest. Forest specialists are still gathering information and looking at all options. No plan will be fully formalized until data gathering has been completed and options for herd management fully explored.

A multi-agency working group was formed in 2011 to effectively manage the growing horse population on the forest which is posing increased safety hazards to both horses and human visitors. During their initial meetings, the group focused directly on researching a contraception program which was being effectively used by the Salt River Pima Indian Community for horse herd management. That community’s program is considered a benchmark to evaluate the possible success of a contraception program for the forest horses.

After this year’s wildfire season is over, it is planned that the group will continue meeting as forest specialists continue to gather information, such as what size the herd is, what the age and gender count is, etc.

New guys in charge

Neil Bosworth is the new guy for Coconino NF:

Phoenix (July 10, 2012) — Neil Bosworth, new forest supervisor appointed to the Tonto National Forest, reported last month from his former position as a member of the Forest Service Legislative Affairs staff in Washington, D.C ., where he worked on national level policy issues such as climate change, fire and fuels, and wilderness designation.  He is accompanied in his re-assignment by wife Amy and two children, Reid and Maggie.

“Amy and I are thrilled to be back out West and I am excited to be leading one of the crown jewels of the Forest Service.  The Tonto National Forest is one of the most-visited, complex, and diverse national forests in the nation,” stated Bosworth.  “It’s just a fascinating forest, with its ecological diversity and high recreation use — a destination forest for Arizonians as well as visitors from all over the world.”

 

Jim Zornes is the new guy in charge of Apache/Sitgreaves:

The anticipation on who the next leader of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests (ASNFs) is over. He’s already on the Forest! Deputy Forest Supervisor Jim Zornes has been named as the new ASNFs’ Forest Supervisor assuming former Forest Supervisor Chris Knopp’s position, who retired in November 2011. “We are fortunate to have Jim assume the role as Forest Supervisor. Jim’s two year tenure on the ASNFs will allow no time lost in continuing the important work being done there,” according to Southwestern Regional Forester Corbin Newman.

Before coming to the ASNFs Zornes was the District Ranger of the Mena/Oden Ranger District, Ouachita NF in Arkansas; before that he was District Ranger on the Leadville Ranger District, Pike/San Isabel NF, Cimarron and Comanche National Grassland in Leadville, CO. He began his career with the Forest Service in Oklahoma after graduating from college in Arkansas. His career took him to Oregon for nearly six years before leaving to purchase a farm in his native state of Arkansas before coming back to the USFS in 2001.

“I’m honored for the opportunity to live and work in the beautiful White Mountains of Arizona. I look forward to working with local leaders and the communities to engage in collaborative solutions to natural resource challenges and opportunities on the ASNFs. My wife Joan and I are pleased to continue being a part of the White Mountain community,” Zornes said.

 

Every NF in AZ still has Christmas Tree Permits

Except the Coronado NF – which never has them.

Outdoor Expo (garage Sale) in Payson
From the Payson Round-up:

Both seasoned and amateur fishermen will have a golden opportunity to rub elbows with some of the state’s finest anglers at the 2nd Annual Let’s Talk Fishin’ Outdoorsman’s Yard Sale on Dec. 8 at the Payson Senior Center, 514 W. Main St.

Professional anglers Clifford Pirch, Matt Sura and Andy Manahl will attend to share some of the secrets, as will Johnny Johnson of the television show, “Fishing with Johnny Johnson” that airs Sunday Mornings on Fox Sports Az.

All are expected to be on site most of the sale hours of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In addition to the presence of the professionals and Johnson, a yard sale will feature new and almost new fishing items and free gifts will be awarded to children 14 years of age and younger.

The article has more info. For more information about the upcoming Outdoors Yard Sale, call Purtee at (928) 978-3659 or email: lets talkfishin@gmail.com.

 

US and Mexico agree on the fate of Colorado River flow

Might as well just read the Nat Geo article.

 

Leaving behind unilateralism, the two countries united to sign the most important bilateral Colorado River agreement since the 1944 Treaty.  The term of the agreement is short – five years– but the framework it sets and the tools it provides are exactly the kind of innovations that will be needed for both the river and the communities who use it to weather the impacts of climate change.

Good for all of us!

Mogollon Rim Bear Restrictions eased but not lifted

Friday, August 10th, 2012

From Arizona Game and Fish

 

Tonto National Forest reduces camping restrictions in area of early summer bear attacks

Tonto National Forest officials announced on Aug. 8 the modification of a temporary area closure order which was enacted in June due to three bear attacks on the Payson Ranger District during May and June. The modified closure order reduces camping restrictions and goes into effect immediately.

“Due to public health and safety concerns and the preponderance of bear sightings this year, along with three attacks on humans during the past two months, Ponderosa, Upper Tonto Creek, Lower Tonto Walk-In, Christopher Creek and Sharp Creek campgrounds were closed last month,” stated Rachel Hohl, district recreation specialist, in a news release. “Now, with the increased live fuel moistures, we should have improved vegetation production for the bears.”

These are the campground requirements addressed by the current order:

  • Sharp Creek will re-open.
  • Christopher Creek will re-open: Only hard-sided campers are authorized. The Christopher Creek day-use area will have garbage removed every evening by the host and will receive a bear-proof trash can.
  • Upper Tonto will re-open: Only hard-sided campers are authorized. Note: Sites are small in this campground so trailers have to be short or only over camper type mounts.
  • Tonto Walk-In (Lower Tonto): Remains closed to overnight usage (a tent camping campground only). Open 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Houston Mesa/Horse Camp: Currently open.
  • Dispersed camping areas:
    • 405/405A Dispersed Loop (including Bear Flats and Lower Tonto Creek):  Open for day-use only (no camping): 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.
    • Upper Tonto Creek Dispersed Area and Horton Trail Area (Hwy 260 to Hatchery): Open for day-use only (no camping): 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.
    • Ponderosa Campground remains closed for the season.

Extensive ‘Bear Aware’ educational efforts and warnings to the public to take extra precautions while camping this year will continue. Forest officials said more bear-proof trash cans have been ordered and will be installed when the district receives them.

For more information about wildlife on the Tonto National Forest, please contact the Arizona Game and Fish Mesa office at (480) 981-9400.

For further information on the modified closure order, as well as a map, see the Tonto National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/tonto or call the Payson Ranger District administrative offices at (928) 474-7900.

Tres Rios Fest this weekend

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Don’t have a behind-the-hike this weekend, but I did finish my taxes. Yes- it was a trade off.

I DO have a hike recommendation this week- or rather an acitvity recommendation – though I’m pretty sure it involves a fair amount of walking around in the sunshine.

Straight from the press release:

Enjoy the outdoors at the Tres Rios Nature Festival this weekend

 

March 8, 2012

 

 

The popular Tres Rios Nature and Earth Festival returns to Estrella Mountain Regional Park this Saturday and Sunday, March 10-11.

The family-friendly festival focuses on the rich diversity of wildlife, habitat, history and culture of the Gila River area in the West Valley. Attendees will be able to see live wildlife up close, go canoeing, try archery, fish, view local birds, hike, and learn about recycling and green living.

The festival will include a special area for children with hands-on activities centered around nature and the outdoors. There will also be a “recycling fashion show,” live entertainment and numerous other features.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Estrella Mountain Regional Park is located at 14805 W. Vineyard, Goodyear, Ariz., 5.5 miles south of Interstate 10 off of Estrella Parkway. Signs will provide visitors with further directions. Admission to the festival is free, although a $3 per vehicle park entrance fee will be charged by the park. Some children’s rides will also require a small fee.

For more information, visit www.tresriosnaturefestival.com or call the Southwest Valley Chamber of Commerce at (623) 932-2260.

 

Fossil Creek Road closed through Summer

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

The Payson Roundup is reporting that the Forest Service intends to extend the ongoing closure of Fossil Creek Road (going west from Strawberry down across the creek). According to the article (and all quotes below are from this article):

The soaring popularity of the pristine, restored travertine-rich stream has drawn a flood of weekend visitors to Payson, but also resulted in piles of litter, illegal campfires and fears of stream pollution.

[…]

The order said the closure would “provide for the public’s health and safety because of the treacherous and unsafe road conditions resulting from geologic instability on rock walls resulting in frequent rock falls and slides into the road. Also, to provide for the public’s and employees’ health and safety considerations of traffic gridlock along the Fossil Creek Corridor.”

Important to note that the main trail to the upper part of the creek – and the springs – is still open.

The steep Fossil Creek Trail will remain open. But that could increase the already substantial number of summer rescues on the arduous, waterless climb out of the canyon. Many people will likely arrive to find the road closed and be tempted to hike down the trail in flip flops without adequate water, a recurrent theme in last year’s rescues.

Maybe they should read my guidebook. 

Payson and the other Rim communities are pissed:

“They’ve taken the sledge hammer to hit the pin on the wall,” said Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce Manager John Stanton.

“What worries me is that this is coming out of (the Tonto National Forest headquarters) in Phoenix or Washington, D.C. and we have no control. Talk about a door slamming.”

To be fair, it’s a forest road going through the national forest. It would be unike the feds to ask permission, or even make a prompt decision.

This summer, the Forest Service projected that Fossil Creek would attract 60,000 visitors, making it a rival to the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park as the region’s top tourist draw.

The Forest Service set up a special team to develop the master plan for future use of Fossil Creek, but hasn’t yet released the results of that effort.

[…]

[Stanton adds,] “Part of the problem in Fossil Creek is of our own making: People have destroyed the place. So now we have to figure out what to do. (The Chamber) has a retreat on Friday to see if there’s anything we can do — at least protest to the Payson Ranger District.”

Years ago, covering the restoration of Fossil Creek fr the now defunct Inside/Outside Magazine, I wrote:

The resurrection of Fossil Springs is a feat of human community as rare and amazing as a river in the desert. Optimists might say it is a new paradigm of things to come, while pessimists point out that, by weight of history, this is simply an aberration. I say dip your feet in the water while you can, because the state’s population growth accelerates while the budgets of agencies which manage the wilderness continue to shrink.

Like all streams in the wilderness, Fossil Creek is endangered by the very people who enjoy it the most. Unless we reverse our attitudes about beer cans and Styrofoam coolers and disposable diapers, a hundred years from now, another extraordinary coalition will be forced come together to restore the creek — again.

The Resurrection of Fossil Creek”  Inside/Outside, June 2007.

I was wrong, of course. We will destroy that place in well under 10 years, much less 100.

 

Superstitions After the Crash

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

On the day before Thanksgiving, a twin-engine plane crashed into the Flatiron formation of the Superstition Mountains killing all aboard. It made national news, but the best coverage I’ve found is from the local Apache Junction News. (http://www.ajnews.com/) Don’t dawdle, they do not have a permanent URL to this story, so its gone when they put out a new issue.

Apache Junction is the town immediately adjacent to the Superstition Wilderness and the Lost Dutchman State Park . It is a distant suburb of Phoenix.

Rescue workers and investigators have concluded operations on the site, and the area is open to the public. There are no designated trails up Flatiron, but there are several unofficial routes climbing it. Jacob’s Crosscut and Siphon Draw are the closest designated trails to the crash-site.

Flatiron photo by Joe Bartels

The Forest Service has requested (insists, really) that any remaining debris be left undisturbed. In particular, they do not want anyone else to bring found body parts to the ranger station (this has apparently already happened).

Despite those sad circumstances, there’s really no better time to hike around the western Supes. I’m going to steer you a bit away from the crash to the Bluff Springs Loop from Peralta TH.

I wrote about this hike in D&O Tonto. The FS is redoing their online trail guides, and the current description have only mileage, elevation, wilderness rules and a note that the route is heavily used. If you’re a member (and that’s free) HikeAz has a good description.

http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=12

This is a crowded part of the wilderness on weekends, and I will be part of that problem, since I lan to hike this myself on Saturday (12/3/11). Maybe I’ll see you there.

Behind-the-hike segments resume next week.

Tonto News Round-up September 2009

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Payson is burning!

No – not really. But it came close last Monday when the Wagon Wheel Fire torched the forest around Diamond Point, north of Payson and south of the RIm. This has forced some closures of roads and campgrounds.

You can track the fire management progress here.

A Lion in Kofa

AZ Game and Fish caught and killed the lion that had been killing off bighorn sheep in the Kofa Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona. The lion, a male fitted with a telemetry collar, was known to have killed 15 bighorn sheep, 11 within the predation management area, since being collared in late February. The Kofa herds, which once numbered as high as 800 in 2000 are now estimated at around 430 animals. The lion was tracked down in  the nearby Eagletail Mountains.

“This one lion was averaging a bighorn sheep kill every 10 days,” said Pat Barber, supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Region IV office in Yuma. “At that rate, an estimated 37 bighorn sheep would have been lost to this lion in a year.”

With other mountain lions remaining in the Kofa  region, Game and Fish biologists will continue to take an active role in monitoring bighorn sheep losses attributed to predation.

“The goal is not to remove all mountain lions from the management area, but to limit predation until the sheep population recovers,” said Barber. “Mountain lion populations throughout the state are healthy and they are neither rare, threatened or at risk. The same can’t be said for this bighorn sheep population.”

Public Lands Day Volunteer Opportunities

In addition to the calls for help published in the last news round-up, a variety of agencies are collaborating in cleaning up the Boulders OHV area on September 26 (Public Lands Day). The Boulders OHV area is located along State Route 74 (mile marker 11.5) from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. To get to the Boulders from the Phoenix area, head north on I-17 to the Highway 74 exit (exit 223), then head west on Hwy 74 to mile marker 11.5. Go north 1 mile to the staging area. Road access into the area is good for most vehicles.

The public is encouraged to volunteer (under the terms of an agency agreement) to assist with clean-up, outreach and sign installation activities. Volunteers are asked to bring gloves, snacks and water.

Cycle Gear, a motorsports gear store, will have prizes for top volunteer efforts. The Arizona Trails Riders will be conducting courtesy vehicle sound testing and will help repack mufflers. The Arizona OHV Coalition and OHV Ambassadors will provide you with maps and informational materials. The Arizona Game and Fish Department will have their mobile OHV learning center on hand to help inform the public of the new OHV laws as well as places to ride.

What could be more fun?
Federal stimulus dollars to help Arizona wildlife

[Below is verbatim from the press release – TP]
Funds to employ rural contractors and purchase Arizona products

The Arizona Game and Fish Department Landowner Relations Program (LRP) will use $110,000 in economic stimulus funds to actively support private land improvements that will benefit both wildlife and the people of Arizona. These dollars came to the department from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Grassland restorations, riparian area protection and pond improvements are just a few of the four or five new projects that could be completed in the next year because of these funds. The projects must also benefit federal trust species that includes things like migratory birds, threatened or endangered species, and to improve water quality.

Landowner Relations Program Manager Sal Palazzolo said, “Projects that can put greater numbers of people to work will probably get chosen over others. For example, it takes lots of people and materials to put in a new fence as opposed to a project that might only take one or two people.”

For more information about the Arizona Game and Fish Department Landowner Relations Program go online to www.azgfd.gov/outdoor_recreation/landowner_relation.shtml

Doe shot with arrow and left to die

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Operation Game Thief program is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the individual(s) responsible for illegally killing a doe.

Game and Fish personnel are investigating a case in which a doe was shot with an arrow and left to die during the deer opener on Aug. 21 at approximately 10:45 a.m. The incident took place in Game Management Unit 20A along Senator Highway between mileposts 6 and 7, just north of the 307 hiking trail. The location is six or seven miles south of downtown Prescott.

Tonto News Roundup August 09

Monday, August 10th, 2009

I have returned from vacation (yes – a camping vacation). So, somewhat overdue, is our monthly round-up of news affecting outdoor recreation in general and the Tonto National Forest in particular.

The “Rim Fire” near Washington Park, smack in the middle of the Mogollon Rim, is now 85% contained. The lightning-sparked blaze has been burning up and down the rugged face of the rim since July 20th. The fire is being managed under a modified suppression strategy due to concerns about steep topography and firefighter safety.  Fire managers are using existing roads, trails, (like the Highline) and topographic features to contain the fire.  Recent rains have also helped. They expect complete containment by August 15th. More info here.

Note that this closes the Col. Devin and Railroad Tunnel Trail, and the Washington Park to Geronimo segment of the Highline Trail, both profiled in my book.

The 2009 Arizona Big Game Super Raffle raised more than $540,000 to directly benefit Arizona’s wildlife. Eleven winners were selected on July 18 to receive the ten special big game tags and an Swarovski optics package. (Swarovski helped sponsor the event). These funds are used to support habitat monitoring, conservation, restoration or other improvements such as elk-friendly fencing.

Volunteer opportunities:

The Tonto NF seeks volunteers to help clean-up one of the busiest areas in their jurisdiction: the lower Salt River area (you know, where drunks go tubing) on September 26th, which is also National Lands Day. More information here, or you can show up before 9am on Pebble Beach.

AZ Game and Fish need folks to spend all night chasing after black-footed ferrets with a spot light.

From October 1st to October 5th, they’ll be conducting their annual ferret survey. Twice thought to be extinct, a small population of black-footed ferrets was discovered in 1981. A mere 18 were left when captive breeding efforts began in 1985. In 1996, Arizona’s Aubrey Valley, west of Seligman, was selected as a reintroduction site. Volunteers must be able to stay attentive from sunset to sunrise, be able to carry up to 30 pounds while backpack-spotlighting for two-hour durations. They must also be willing to learn how to use a Global Positioning System (GPS).

Individuals can volunteer for one or more dates. A parent or guardian must accompany any youth under the age of 18.

Those wishing to volunteer, or needing more information, should e-mail azferret@azgfd.gov by Sept. 21 with “October Spotlighting” in the subject line. Please indicate what night(s) you are available to help; include a first and last name, a contact number, and if anyone else will be attending with you.

Also, please list any of the following equipment you can bring: GPS, clipboard, backpack (to carry a 30-pound battery), headlamp, pen, compass, binoculars, walkie-talkies, 4×4 vehicle (please list passenger capacity), compass, spotlight (that can plug into a cigarette lighter), or a cordless rechargeable spotlight.

Weather in the Aubrey Valley can be unpredictable, so individuals need to dress appropriately.

[Portions from the AZGDF news release].

I spent a long time crawling through road construction throughout the inter-mountain west, so this is dear to my heart currently: Interactive Map for AZ road construction (from AZ DOT).

Finally, some personal news. I am now the Phoenix Camping Examiner for Examiner.com. I get paid by the pageview, so check it out, if you have an interest. And if you’ve read down this far, that’s a safe bet.

Tonto News Round-up July 2009

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Our monthly round-up of news affecting hiking and camping in general and the Tonto NF in particular.

Fire Restrictions Have Been Lifted in the Tonto National Forest – just in time for the hottest weekend of the year. Early monsoon humidity has reduced the overall dryness of, well, everything enough to allow open fires once more in the Tonto.

“Although campfires and smoking will now be allowed throughout the forest, visitors should properly extinguish cigarettes in ashtrays, and ashes in a campfire ring should be cold enough to touch before they are left,” said Tonto NF Fire Staff Officer Clay Templin.  “Campfires should be put out by drowning with water and stirring with a shovel to ensure the fire is cold.”

Forest Supervisor Gene Blankenbaker extended special thanks to the visiting public during the fire restrictions which began May 14.  “We want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding while we had to restrict access and activities on the Tonto during this fire season.  We appreciate our visitors’ support of the restrictions.”

Heading out to the desert lakes for the 4th weekend? Well – don’t forget your Tonto Pass, because there isn’t much you can do at any of the lakes without one. Also, be aware of stepped-up enforcement of drunk boating laws.

Oh – and the Bald eagle restrictions have been lifted from most of the desert lakes. As you may recall, portions of the lakes and other desert waterways are closed to traffice throughout spring to allow the more-or-less endangered Southwest Bald Eagles to nest in peace during breeding season. They’re done now. Have at it.

Look Out for Bears! Encounters between bears and humans are becoming more common in the high country, as humans expand their range and the bears stubbornly refuse to evaporate into thin air. The chief instigator in this would be food, which, from the bears’ perspective, includes the garbage.

“We don’t have any habitats devoid of humans. They don’t exist. Bears are large, powerful and unpredictable animals. If a bear constitutes a public safety threat in one location, a change in geography is simply not going to alter or diminish the threat,”

He adds later, “We don’t have any habitats devoid of humans. They don’t exist. Bears are large, powerful and unpredictable animals. If a bear constitutes a public safety threat in one location, a change in geography is simply not going to alter or diminish the threat,”

Speaking of human/animal conflict…

The deadline for the big game hunting Super-raffle has been extended to July 12th. You can stalk and kill (or attempt to anyway) all sorts of critters from elk and buffalo to bears and mountain lions – if you have a permit. More Information here.

One last thing: Native Fish Cam.

Enjoy.

Tonto News Roundup June 2009

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

Summer’s here – because the forest is on fire:

Summary: The Pioneer Fire started on Saturday, and is burning on East Mountain, approximately 7 miles south of Globe, Arizona.  Burnout operations were conducted last night.  Aerial resources will be assisting ground crews today in holding the line at Forest Service Road 112 near Pioneer Pass.  Smoke is expected to be visible around the East Mountain area for next 5 days.  The public is asked to please use caution on Hwy. 77 because of fire equipment and fire traffic.

This is not far from the Pinal Mountains (see last post). You can keep track of the progress here.

Presciently, the Globe area is scheduled for some prescribed burns this summer (though the big, unprescibed burn going on right now may modify their plans).

“The purpose of these prescribed fires is to reduce the hazardous fuels in these areas and lower the chances of catastrophic fire, which could burn onto private land and endanger valuable electronic sites and private property. The prescribed fires will also help promote a healthier forest and watershed,” said Rick Reitz, Globe District ranger.

In the Phoenix area? Got free time? Here’s the Arizona Game and Fish Online Calender. AZG&F is, of course, a statewide operation, and the calender does have events all over the state, but, basically, the bulk of them happen around Phoenix.

Try to follow this: Towards the end of the Clinton administration, a ruling came down declaring a moratorium on new road construction in the National Forests. Towards the end of the Bush administration, this ban was overturned. Did that lead to a frenzy in two-track road construction? No. Iy led to a flurry of legal action.

So the Obama administration, late last month, declared a moratorium on lifting the moratorium. This is from the Department of Agriculture’s press release:

The U.S. Forest Service, with jurisdiction over the National Forests and Grasslands, makes decisions about what projects can take place on those lands. In simultaneously upholding and overturning the 2001 Clinton roadless rule, the courts have created confusion and made it difficult for the U.S. Forest Service to do its job. The directive will ensure that USDA can carefully consider activities in these inventoried roadless areas while long term roadless policy is developed and relevant court cases move forward.

In related news, the adminstration has also released stimulus funds to -ah – build forest roads.

So, well, good luck with that.

Fire Restriction vs Backpacking Stoves

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

The Tonto NF has announced fire restrictions from May 14th until, well, until the area gets serious rain.

The Prescott and Coconino NF’s have announced similar restictions starting tomorrow. Typically, these closures cover all the National Forests in the state by the beginning of June.

This is what that means, according to the press release:

Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or charcoal-burning device is prohibited. Restrictions also apply to smoking outside of a cleared area, operating internal combustion power tools, using welding equipment or torches with open flames, operating combustion engines without spark- arresting devices in effective working order, or discharging firearms except in taking game in accordance with Arizona hunting laws. Use of petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns, and heating devices are allowed, and some developed campgrounds are also exempted from these restrictions. (Please see attached list).

Note, however, that fires are still permitted within designated fire pits in established campgrounds.

There is considerable gray area regarding which sort of backpacking stoves are legal under fire restriction. I know that my trusty MSR Pocket Rocket IS legal, because, like most liquid-fuel stoves of this type, I can shut it off instantly by turning the valve. I also know that my little metal Hobo Stove is NOT legal, because even though the fire is wholly contained in the cylinder, I can’t just shut it off.

The grey area, then, consists of alcohol stoves, Sterno stoves, and solid fuel stoves. From experience, I know that the legality of these depend upon which ranger you talk to. So I called the front office.

According to Tonto NF Fire Supervisor Helen Graham, alcohol and sterno would be legal, so long as they can be immediately extiguished.

“The real spirit behind the restrictions is that it’s a fire you can put out immediately.” She explained.

So, as long as you have a lid handy that will snuff the flame, light-em up. Good news, since alcohol and sterno stoves (particularly well-made alcohol stoves) have excellent weight/cost/btu ratios.

Just don’t be the jack-ass who started the fire that prompted the FS to outlaw all backcountry stoves.