The Museum wildfire, which began July 21st, is currently still burning in the Dry Lake Hills area north of town. It is a difficult, challenging, and extremely unfortunate event. While the cause remains undetermined at this point, rest assured that all leads are being followed as the investigation continues.
City and Coconino National Forest personnel have been working diligently over the past few years to implement planned forest treatments. As of last week, we were just shy of 50% completed within the Dry Lake Hills area (approximately 65% completed project-wide).
The fire will continue for another week or more before
full-containment. Some initial reports are that some of this completed
work had some positive effects on fire spread and intensity, but
We do know that some areas burned very hot/severe and that some treatment sites – completed our underway – were within those areas;
Two of the seven log decks were burned (NOTE: due to wood size, type, and condition, all log decks are of minimal timber value);
Some trails have been damaged, wildlife habitat lost, and the Mt Elden Road will be impacted for some time;
Post fire flooding is a very real threat and the City and County are working tirelessly to mitigate the impacts;
No structures have been damaged or lost as a result of the fire;, and
There has been only two relatively minor injuries to-date.
In the coming weeks, we will work to assess the impacts of the fire on the Watershed Project, and we’ll share those results once known. What we can say right now, however, is that it could have been far worse. We are very grateful to the Southwest Incident Management Team #2 for their professionalism, effectiveness, and sensitivity to our community and the Project.
Following that assessment, we’ll re-engage and carry-on. We have on-going work that still needs to be completed, and areas where planned work remains to be done. Our objectives and commitment remain unchanged.
“What to Expect After Restoration” is a recent publication from NAU’s Ecological Restoration Institute that will help explain what forest visitors may see following cutting operations and how the disturbance will heal over time.
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.
There will be quite a bit of firewood-sized material available as a result of treatment work in the Dry Lake Hills area. This document is an overview of our attempts to make this wood available to those throughout northern AZ.
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: