Tag Archives: US Forest Service

Christmas Tree Permits Available Starting November 9

Last year's Xmas tree permit announcement

Last year’s Christmas tree permit call, plus a few good safety tips!

Our friends at the U.S Forest Service are once again allowing you to cut down your own Christmas tree starting November 9. There will be 5,975 Christmas tree permits available for purchase at participating Big 5 Sporting Goods stores, as well as 4,675 permits available at participating Forest Service offices. Remember, permits go fast, so don’t wait too long.

Participating Big 5 Sporting Goods Stores:
Avondale/Goodyear: 1623 North Dysart Road, 623-535-0384
Bullhead City: 1835 State Route 95, 928-763-0608
Chandler: 2050 North Arizona Avenue, 480-821-9226
Flagstaff: 2775 Woodlands Village Boulevard, 928-214-0590
Glendale: 5490 West Bell Road, 602-548-5794
Kingman: 3320 North Stockton Hill Road, 928-692-4944
Mesa: 2930 North Power Road, 480-854-1889
Mesa/Gilbert: 1244 South Gilbert Road, 480-507-0137
Paradise Valley: 4623 East Cactus Road, 602-953-0305
Payson: 220 East State Route 260, 928-474-2092
Phoenix/Bell Rd: 1919 West Bell Road, 602-863-1309
Phoenix/East: 3560 East Thomas Road, 602-955-9601
Phoenix/West: 7710 West Thomas Road, 623-848-4800
Prescott Valley: 6106 Highway 69, 928-759-0013
Show Low: 4441 South White Mountain, 928-537-5551
Scottsdale: 3330 Hayden Road, 480-941-4387
Thatcher: 2281 West U.S. Route 70 Suite C, 928-428-8760
Tucson: 5695 East Speedway Boulevard, 520-296-3326
Yuma: 505 Catalina Drive, 928-726-2884

Permits available at Big 5 Sporting Goods stores:
Apache-Sitgreaves: 3,700 permits, any tree species
Coconino: 250 permits, fir only
Kaibab: 900 permits, piñon and juniper
Prescott: 225 permits, any tree species
Tonto: 900 permits, any tree species (primarily piñon and juniper are available)

Permits available at Forest Service offices:
Apache-Sitgreaves: 3,000 permits, any tree species
Coconino: 350 permits, fir only
Kaibab: 1,100 permits, species vary by district
Prescott: 225 permits, any tree species

Rules for Christmas Tree Permits:

  • Each Christmas tree permit is $15 for a tree up to 10 feet tall.
  • One Christmas tree permit allowed per household—for personal use only.
  • Trees must be cut within designated cutting areas.
  • Trees may be cut until December 24.
  • No refunds on Christmas tree permits.

General information about the Christmas tree cutting program will also available on the Christmas tree permit hotline (928) 333-6267 and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests web site: http://www.fs.usda.gov/asnf.

1 Comment

Filed under Things to Do

Q&A: Spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service Talks Wildfires & Spending Cuts

Photograph by Jag Fergus

Photograph by Jag Fergus | Doce Fire

Arizona is still mourning the June 30 loss of 19 “hotshot” firefighters in the Yarnell Hill Fire, and while it will be a while before we know exactly what happened, we do know that the fire spread very quickly — much like the other recent wildfire in the Prescott area. That blaze, the Doce Fire northwest of Prescott, is now almost fully contained, as is Yarnell Hill. But if previous fire seasons are any indication, these won’t be the only dangerous wildfires Arizona faces this year.

As detailed in a recent Associated Press story, reduced federal funding for “fuels reduction” programs, such as prescribed burns, could make wildfires more severe and difficult to fight. Before the Yarnell Hill Fire broke out, we spoke with Cathie Schmidlin, a Southwestern Region spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service, to learn how budget cuts could affect Arizona this fire season.

If more money had been spent on prevention, might Arizona’s recent wildfires have been less severe, or easier to control?

When wildfires occur, a lot of factors come into play, including weather, fuels conditions and terrain, so it isn’t really possible to speculate about [specific wildfires]. What we do know is that we have many examples of places, including Arizona, where reducing hazardous fuels has helped moderate fire behavior, made fires easier to control and made it easier for firefighters to protect lives, homes, and communities.

In 2006, the Forest Service initiated a program to evaluate the effectiveness of prescribed fire and mechanical treatments designed to reduce the risk of wildfire.  When a wildfire starts within, or burns into, a fuel-treatment area, an assessment is conducted to evaluate the resulting impacts on fire behavior and fire suppression actions.  In 2011, the Forest Service made the effectiveness assessment mandatory whenever a wildfire impacts a previously treated area.

Results show that, of almost 1,200 cases in the database, 93 percent of the fuel treatments were effective in changing fire behavior or helping with control of the wildfire; 56 percent of these fuel treatments were effective in helping keep wildfires less than 10 acres; and 61 percent were effective in helping keep wildfires less than 20 acres.

Because our capacity to treat fuels with prescribed fire and mechanical treatments is not adequate to restore all national-forest lands in need, it is especially important that wildfire itself be used as a tool, where possible, to restore forests. Appropriate wildfire response can include a range of actions from aggressive suppression to confinement, point protection and monitoring.

Are there areas of Arizona that could benefit from more prevention funding?

An emphasis, for more than a decade, in Arizona has been to treat hazardous fuels to reduce the risk of unwanted fire on communities, livelihoods, municipal watersheds and infrastructure. Treatments are focused in areas where risk is high, risk can be effectively mitigated, and communities are committed to implementing changes to become more fire-adapted.

Areas of focus in Arizona include the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (Coconino, Kaibab, Tonto, and Apache-Sitgreaves national forests), White Mountain Stewardship (Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests) Rim Communities (Tonto National Forest), Flagstaff Watershed Restoration Plan (Coconino National Forest), and Prescott Basin (Prescott National Forest).

We’ve had two gigantic wildfires (Rodeo-Chediski and Wallow) in the last decade. If funding cuts continue, could we be looking at another Wallow Fire somewhere else in Arizona in the near future?

The Wallow Fire actually was less severe due to treatments. The fire became easier to control in several areas that had been treated near Alpine, enhancing firefighters’ ability to protect property there.

We really can’t speculate about the impact of any future funding reductions. Reducing hazardous fuels is key to reducing the risk of extreme wildfires, and we will continue to do our best with the funds we have available.

The role and importance of fire in Southwestern forests is well-documented. Fire history (footprint of fire) directly affects fire severity, and it serves as a metric in anticipating future fire severity.

—Noah Austin, Associate Editor


Filed under Eco Issues

Campfire & Smoking Restrictions to be Implemented

Photo by Kelly Kramer

Photo by Kelly Kramer

A very important message from our friends at the U.S. Forest Service:

Springerville, AZ – May 15, 2013—Campfire and smoking restrictions will be implemented at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, May 23 in Apache and Navajo Counties, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, and within local fire districts located in both counties.

White Mountain area cities, counties, and federal agencies, along with commercial partners that make up Northeast Arizona Public Information System (593 JIC), and the White Mountains Fire Restrictions Coordination Group have been collectively planning for months to implement timely fire restrictions for public lands within the White Mountain area.

With extremely dry vegetation, the risk of wildland fire is extremely high. People who enjoy public lands in Apache and Navajo Counties can reduce the risk of fire by practicing fire safety and by adhering to fire prevention restrictions. The criteria officials consider before implementing fire restrictions include current and predicted weather, fuel conditions, fire activity levels, and available resources. Due to increasing fire danger, the following fire restrictions are deemed necessary to prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public health and safety:

  • Fires, campfires, charcoal, coal and wood stoves are allowed in developed campgrounds only.
  • These restrictions limit smoking to within enclosed vehicles, buildings, or in developed campgrounds.
  • Pressurized liquid or gas stoves, lanterns, and heaters that can be turned off are allowed.

The fire restrictions will remain in place until lands within Apache and Navajo Counties receive significant precipitation.

White Mountain visitors are reminded that some campfire restrictions are always in effect, such as in forested areas within city limits of most northern Arizona communities. Additionally, fireworks are never allowed on National Forests. For more information about restrictions on public lands by calling (928) 333-3412 or toll free 1-877-864-6985 or visit (www.593info.org), and also the NEW interagency website: (Firerestrictions.us) created to inform residents and visitors about fire restrictions and closures across the South-west area.

Forest and White Mountain visitors are encouraged to be fire safe and show their commitment to wildfire prevention by going online and taking Smokey’s pledge.


Filed under Eco Issues, Mother Nature, News

Fall is Right Around the Corner and the U.S. Forest Service Wants You to Enjoy It

Photo by David R. Seay | White Mountains near Greer

It may not feel like it in some parts of the state, but fall is right around the corner, and the U.S. Forest Service wants you to go out and enjoy this spectacular time of year (FYI, check out our October issue, which features some of the best back roads and bike trails for riding among the stunning fall leaves).

Below, the Forest Service offers up some very compelling reasons to hit the road:

“Autumn is a wonderful time of the year to plan a trip to see the beauty of your national forests,” said Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. “As tree experts, we have incredible resources on our website to help you plan a great adventure this fall season.”

Coast-to-coast, state and local economies get a boost because of the fall season and for many rural communities, fall color tourism is a major source of revenue. Hotels, restaurants and local shops rely on the influx of dollars generated by fall visitors. For example, the New England area receives an estimated $8 billion in local revenues annually due to fall activities. Throughout the Midwest, millions of visitors hit the road to enjoy the sights. And in the West, the mountains provide destinations filled with tourists seeking a glimpse of shimmering gold aspens.

Weather conditions in all areas impact peak viewing dates, so information provided by the Forest Service will help visitors plan their trips:

The Forest Service’s Fall Colors 2012 website includes clickable maps with fall color information and links to state tourism sites and fall color websites. Some of our most popular, family-friendly features include scenic drives and trails, coloring pages for kids, the science behind the season, and links to a tree database. Photographs from visitors nationwide will be added to the site.

The Forest Service has also turned on its “Fall Colors Hotline:” 1-800-354-4595. The hotline provides audio updates on the best places, dates and routes to take for peak viewing of fall colors on national forests.



1 Comment

Filed under Things to Do

Persons of Interest Under Investigation

The result of an unattended campfire?

Looks like investigators are finally zeroing on the person(s) responsible for the largest blaze in our state’s history…

According to a news story that appeared on ABC 15’s Website, a supervisor with the U.S. Forest Service has confirmed that the investigation into the cause of the Wallow Fire has led authorities to two persons of interest:

“What we’ve pretty much broken it down to is (the cause) looks like it was a campfire,” said Supervisor Christopher Knopp with the U.S. Forest Service. “We’ve got a couple of people we’re talking to on that right now.”

Knopp said the Wallow Fire started when the campfire “escaped.”

Knopp also confirmed to ABC15 that two separate arson fires were set during the Wallow Fire.

“We had one in Lakeside and one in New Mexico,” said Knopp. “Both were clearly arson fires.”

When asked if they tried to make it look like it was caused by the wildfire, Knopp responded, “Apparently or just wanted the fire to be bigger.”

Knopp declined to give the ages of the two persons of interest or where they’re from.

Leave a comment

Filed under Eco Issues, Make a Difference