Sen McSally visits FWPP

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Senator McSally visits Flagstaff and FWPP

As part of a statewide tour, Senator Martha McSally visited Flagstaff on Friday, Mar 22nd, speaking with local leaders.

With Mayor Coral Evans, Coconino County Supervisor Art Babbott and several members of the Flagstaff Fire Department, the senator toured areas of the Coconino National Forest on the Dry Lake Hills that are part of the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project.

McSally told the Daily Sun she was impressed with the project and that the federal government needed to increase the support and ease for which forest restoration projects were completed.

“Really, kudos to Flagstaff for stepping up as a city to make the decision to invest in areas outside the city limits, because this is so important to really set this example,” McSally said.

Excerpted from AZ Daily Sun, Mar 24th 2019

FWPP Closure Order February 2019

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The Coconino National Forest has issued an updated press release regarding the forest closure in the Dry Lake Hills and Mount Elden areas.

Please note that there is increased access for recreation in some areas, but active areas of the project are still closed for public safety! Please respect all closure signs and stay out of closed areas.

To get an update on what has changed, what is open, and what is still closed to the public, please read the updated forest closure press release below:

To read the official Area Closure document, please see below:

Be Smart!

Be Safe!

FWPP: A year in review and looking ahead to 2019

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FWPP has made great progress over the last year! First and foremost, we appreciate you, the Flagstaff community for being supportive of this forest thinning and fire prevention work! The honest truth is; this work is difficult, there are many project partners involved, and there are always challenges to square up to and overcome. Thank you for supporting this project as we move along, year after year.

Some of the biggest highlights from 2018 are the award and initiation of two new contracts in the Dry Lake Hills area. In addition to steep slope and helicopter contractors working out in the woods, we also had three American Conservation Crews hand thinning in and around Brookbank Meadow all summer and fall. Please see our 2018 Biannual Report for a more in-depth recap of progress through the end of 2018.

FWPP was also able to significantly increase the amount of financial leverage received through cash and in-kind contributions from our project partners. In fact, 2018 was our biggest leverage year since the project began! Take a look at the FWPP Leverage 2013-2018. A special thank you to the Coconino National Forest for providing over $1.8M in cash to the project. This demonstration of support shows clearly your dedication to keeping our beloved forests around Flagstaff healthy and protected into the future.

Look forward to 2019, we are hoping to have our steep slope and helicopter contractors finish their work as swiftly as possible. We also are looking to have additional hand thinning crews working in the Dry Lake Hills and on Observatory Mesa. FWPP in cooperation with the Coconino National Forest, Hopi, and Navajo hope to pilot a free firewood program. Please read our list of 2019 FWPP Goals for more information.

Many more exciting and challenging things are ahead for FWPP. Thank you for your support, and please contact us at anytime!

New Closure Order goes into effect across FWPP

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Coconino National Forest has issued a closure order for an area of the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project that includes Dry Lake Hills and a large portion of Mount Elden in order to keep the public safe from forest harvesting operations.

The public is restricted from entering this closure area so that helicopter logging and forest thinning operations can be conducted safely.

Heavy equipment and truck traffic will be present on Schultz Pass Road (Forest Road 420), Elden Lookout Road, and U.S. Highway 180. Several miles of Schultz Pass Road with the closure area are closed, as well as Elden Lookout Road, for public safety.

The closure area also affects all or portions of trails, including:

  • Brookbank Trail
  • Elden Lookout Trail
  • Little Bear Trail
  • Little Elden Trail
  • Little Gnarly Trail
  • Lower Oldham Trail
  • Rocky Ridge Trail
  • Schultz Creek Trail
  • Sunset Trail
  • Upper Oldham Trail

Harvesting operations are expected to conclude sometime this summer. Violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations and/or imprisonment for not more than six months.

Helicopter logging operations begin in the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project

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Helicopter logging operations are now active in the Mount Elden and Dry Lake Hills FWPP project area. Markit! Forestry Management, the contractor responsible for managing all of the helicopter logging work, has moved crews and equipment into the project area. Ground crews have been engaged in preparation work, and hand-felling operations within the helicopter cutting units have started.

Logging equipment will be active along the Shultz Pass and Mt. Elden Lookout Road area. The primary helicopter landing and service area will be located off the Mt. Elden Lookout Road, behind the locked forest service gate, on Coconino National Forest land. This road is closed for the winter season; please do not enter the area due to the active helicopter operations and for public and operator safety. Noise and visible activity created by the helicopter flight operations will be present in this area starting in mid-January and lasting through late spring.

The helicopter flight operations will be visible in the area as the helicopter lifts and transports bundles of felled trees from the project area to established landing sites. The helicopter operations will occur during daylight hours, seven days a week, and for three to five months depending on operational conditions.

As the helicopter and other FWPP forest thinning work progresses, forest closure areas restricting public access into the Mount Elden and Dry Lake Hills area will be implemented. This will include areas along the Mount Elden Lookout Road, and portions of popular trails like the Rocky Ridge and Oldham trails. These areas closures will change as operations progress, and will be strictly enforced. Please respect all closures, and do not approach logging machinery, helicopters, or heavy equipment at any time. Be Smart, Be Safe! Please visit the FWPP website for project updates, and join our project email list to receive the most current information.

Ryan Conner is the owner of R&R Conner Aviation, the subcontractor implementing the FWPP logging operations.