PHOENIX — Tonto National Forest firefighters are planning two fuel treatments on the Payson Ranger District while also preparing four “pit burn” locations for property owners and planning a prescribed fire near the Payson Helibase in neighboring Star Valley.

Weather and related conditions permitting, the first fuel treatment could begin Nov. 27 with the remaining three operations occurring sometime through March 2024.

The Rim Country Bonita Creek Piles project will use prescribed fire to burn 24 acres of debris piles made of woody fuels resulting from the construction of the fuel break around Bonita Creek Estates. The project is located 9 miles northeast of Payson and north of the Control Road entrance to Bonita Creek Estates. The operation will improve the Bonita Creek watershed.

The Rim Country Christopher Creek Piles project will use prescribed fire to burn 107 acres of debris piles to dispose of small trees and bushes generated from the construction of fuel breaks. This project is located 16 miles east of Payson and south of Highway 260 near Christopher Creek Campground. The operation will improve the Christopher Creek watershed.

The Payson Pits prescribed fire project will allow property owners to bring yard debris – to include leaf litter, pine needles, assorted brush and small diameter limbs and trees – to one of the following locations where fire specialists will oversee burning of the debris. The size of each pit is between 0.25 to 0.5 acres.

Chase Creek Pit, located 0.5 miles south of Shadow Rim Camp and 1.5 miles north of Whispering Pines off Forest Road 32

Pine Pit, located 2.5 miles southeast of Pine, off the Control Road
Perley Pit, located 1 mile southeast of Bonita Creek Estates, off the Control Road
Ponderosa Pit, located 1.5 miles southeast of Tonto Village and 8 miles east of Star Valley

The Payson Helibase Piles prescribed fire will burn piles of woody fuels generated from clearing the land for the Payson Helibase.

Specific start dates and projected end times for each project will be posted on the Tonto’s Facebook and ‘X’ (formerly Twitter) social media pages.

Prescribed fire operations are part of the USDA Forest Service’s overarching wildfire crisis strategy to reduce wildfire risk to people, communities, and natural resources while sustaining and restoring healthy, resilient fire-adapted forests. For more information about the Forest Service’s 10-year strategy to address the wildfire crisis, visit the Confronting the Wildfire Crisis web page.

For additional information about the above projects, contact the Payson Ranger Station located at 1009 E. Highway 260, Payson, Arizona. Or phone the station at (928) 474-7900 Monday – Friday between 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 - 4:30 p.m.

For the latest news and information about the Tonto National Forest, follow along on Facebook @TontoNationalForest or ‘X’ (formerly Twitter) @TontoForest.   back...