the National Forest
Editor’s Note: Birkland is a public
information officer for the National Forest Service in Sedona.
At deadline, there was no end in sight to the state of complete
National Forest closure.
big question on everyone’s mind is, "What does it take to
end a forest closure here in Northern Arizona?"
One answer, according to Forest Fire Staff Bruce Greco,
is that “closures will be lifted when Forest Supervisors determine
that we have received an adequate amount of widespread moisture
significant enough to adequately reduce the risk of wildfire to
a manageable level, and that hot, dry conditions will not quickly
he said "it is going to take at least 1/2 inch of rain,
or maybe even an inch of rain" in most of the forest with
"significant moisture in critical areas such as Oak Creek
Canyon before we begin discussing lifting restrictions."
Lifting smoking, chainsaw and campfire restrictions will be the
next phase considered given the forest receives "significant"
moisture over an extended period of time. Most critical is that
the public "sticks with us" in complying until fire
risks are reduced and the forest is re-opened.
Other key considerations that will be used to evaluate
reopening the forest: 1) availability of firefighting resources;
2) anticipated weather trends and wood-fuel moisture; 3) number
of daily fire starts; 4) anticipated numbers of forest visitors;
and 5) socio-political considerations (heightened concern from
local citizens and communities).
Extreme fire behavior, as observed with the Rodeo-Chediski
Fire, has proved to be worse than anyone had expected. So far,
protecting the National Forest from human-caused fires in our
area has been successful. Over the fourth of July weekend, there
were only three lightning fires, less than an acre in size, and
no human caused fires.
With the onset of the monsoon season we are hopeful
precipitation is on its way to assist us in reopening the National
Forest. Forest closure is considered the last resort as a fire
prevention tool, yet an extremely effective one.
What happens over the next several weeks will make a
significant difference in how managers feel about re-opening the
National Forest. “Everyone has been extremely supportive and cooperative,”
said District Ranger Ken Anderson, “and we thank all you who have
sacrificed your forest enjoyment in trade for helping to provide
public safety and natural resource protection!”