This week marks the 10th anniversary of the Rodeo-Chediski Fire, which burned across the Sitgreaves National Forest and White Mountain Apache Reservation, destroying 425 homes. A year ago, the state’s only fire larger than the R-C Fire, the Wallow Fire, was burning across more than a half million acres of the Apache National Forest. This Saturday, June 23rd, area experts will be on hand at the White Mountain Wildlife & Nature Center to look back at these fires and provide insights on what’s being done to help prevent future similar mega-fires, and what role homeowners can play to help ensure that their properties and homes are firesafe. Despite the tendency to focus on only the negative impacts of these fires, officials will make presentations on the progress made since the R-C Fire to thin and restore our forests, as well as how wildlife populations were directly affected by that fire and have since responded, and how they can be expected to respond to the Wallow Fire.
Presentations will be made by the Lakeside and Pinetop Fire Departments and the Lakeside Ranger District on their “Ready, Set, Go” program on fire-safing properties and emergency preparedness, describing what resources are available to homeowners. Arizona Game and Fish Department representatives will describe the short- and long-term relationships of the R-C and Wallow fires on wildlife populations. For those interested, a short hike with hands-on demonstrations on the Nature Center property will illustrate changes that have occurred to our ponderosa pine forests and principles of improving forest health. This program will begin at 10:00 and last for approximately 2 hours. This event is free to the public, the Nature Center is located at 425 S. Woodland Road in Pinetop-Lakeside; see http://www.wmnature.org for more information.
On Sunday, June 24th, the Nature Center, White Mountain Conservation League, and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests will conduct a tour of the Wallow Fire area, with selected stops to illustrate key lessons learned from the fire. Experts will be on hand at each stop to interact with participants. Due to ongoing fires, transportation for participants cannot be provided, so each participant will need to provide their own transportation to the various stops, including:
- Greer area (meet at the fire station at 10:00 AM) – tour background, private land treatment benefits, and area thinning projects
- Escudilla Mountain (meet at the US Highway 191 & Forest Road 56 junction at 12:00 noon) – extreme intensity fire impact to forest and wilderness
- Alpine area (meet at Alpine Ranger Station at 1:30 PM) – benefit of Wildlife-Urban Interface (WUI) thinning
- Big Lake area (meet at Three Forks off Forest Road 249, approximately 12 miles west of US 191 at 3:00 PM) – mixed intensity burn mosaic and wildlife and aspen response to fire
Those wishing to participate in the Sunday tour need to sign up at the Saturday workshop or call the Nature Center at (928) 358-3069. Water and snacks will be provided by the Nature Center; participants should bring their own lunch.