14 May 2010, 8:39pm
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Forest Treatments Under Wildfire Plan Reviewed

By Tammy Gray-Searles, AZ Journal, May 14th, 2010 [here]

A total of 7,416 acres in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests were treated to reduce fire danger in 2009, the Navajo County Board of Supervisors learned Tuesday.

Board members heard a report on fire protection activities that took place in 2009 as part of the Sitgreaves Communities Wildfire Protection Plan, which was created in 2004, after the Rodeo-Chedeski wildfire. According to the report, 90,545 acres have been treated since the plan was adopted, and 6,629 parcels have been assessed for treatment.

The report also notes that $1 million in grant funds were awarded for fire mitigation within the plan area in 2009.

Of the 7,416 acres treated in the last year, 5,023 were Forest Service land, 523 were privately owned and the remaining 1,870 belong to the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

On Forest Service land, 2,961 acres were treated using prescribed fires to eliminate excess fuel, and 2,062 were treated by mechanical thinning.

Part of the fuel removed was used at the biomass plant in Snowflake, which included the removal of biomass fuel from 435 acres.

The report notes that an agreement with Renegy and Future Forest will allow the removal of additional biomass fuel from Forest Service land in upcoming years.

“An important agreement was reached between Renegy Holdings Inc. and Future Forest LLC concerning biomass transport and delivery. Cleaner air will be a major benefit from the agreement. More biomass will be removed from the forest, ultimately resulting in less smoke from prescribed burns and wildfires,” the report states.

A total of 11,000 acres of Forest Service land north of Highway 260 is scheduled for thinning in upcoming years.

On the Fort Apache Reservation, all of the 1,870 acres treated in 2009 were treated through mechanical thinning and none by prescribed fire, but the report notes that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has burned “an extensive backlog of slash piles.” Since the start of the plan, a total of 23,515 acres on the Fort Apache Reservation has been treated. The report points out that maintenance is now needed on land that was treated in 2002 and 2003.

All of the private land treated during the last year was also treated using mechanical thinning.

Officials are now looking at ways to maintain treated areas while continuing work in untreated areas. A cooperative agreement is expected to help with ongoing maintenance.

The report notes, “Maintenance of previously treated areas and new treatments are being addressed with a cooperative initiative between the City of Show Low, Homeowners Association Management Company, Arizona Division of Forestry and the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.” … [more]

Thanks for the news tip to Julie Kay Smithson, Property Rights Research [here, here]

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