2019 – 2023 Mexican Spotted Owl Monitoring Reports for FWPP

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Since 2015, the U.S. Forest Service Coconino National Forest and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) are monitoring Mexican spotted owls (MSO) as part of the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP). FWPP is the result of the 2012 passage of a bond measure by the voters of the City of Flagstaff (City) to fund fuels reduction work on National Forest System lands within the Coconino National Forest and Arizona State trust lands. The project involves work in the Rio de Flag watershed, north of Flagstaff, to reduce the risk of post-wildfire flooding into the City as well as work in the Mormon Mountain area to reduce the potential for post-fire sedimentation within the Lake Mary watershed. Project activities will occur over the next five to ten years.

The project proposes to conduct forest management activities (e.g., thinning, burning, etc.) that may affect up to nine designated MSO protected activity centers (PACs). For more information about the MSO and recommended management, please refer to the Recovery plan for the Mexican Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis lucida), First Revision (USFWS 2012, Recovery Plan). Included in this report are the results of the required 2018 MSO PAC monitoring for the FWPP MSO Management Experiment (USFWS 2015) and recovery habitat (inventory) surveys.


We used the USFWS 2012 Mexican Spotted Owl Survey Protocol (USFWS 2012, Appendix D).

PAC Monitoring Results

Per the FWPP Management Experiment, we are monitoring 11 PACs: six treatment and five reference in the Dry Lake Hills and Mormon Mountain project areas (Tables 1 & 2). Through the objection resolution process, the Forest Service also agreed to monitor three additional PACs. More information is in the FWPP Biological Opinion (USFWS 2015) and the FWPP Record of Decision (USFS 2015a). Due to the uncertainty of timing of treatments, we may monitor PACs annually until they occur.




2021 FWPP MSO Monitoring Report – Final

2022 FWPP MSO Monitoring Report – Final

2023 FWPP MSO Monitoring Report – Final

Museum Fire update – Mon July 29th

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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.