Forest Service is considering changes to fire restrictions in Coconino National Forest

By Michel Marizco
Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2023 - 2:46pm
Updated: Tuesday, January 24, 2023 - 9:15am

 Pipeline Fire
Michel Marizco/KJZZ
In this June 12, 2022 photo, the Pipeline Fire burned 40 square miles of the Coconino National Forest northeast of Flagstaff.

The Forest Service will be holding community meetings in northern Arizona to gather input about changes it’s considering to fire restrictions on the Coconino National Forest in northern Arizona. 

Under one consideration, it would limit camping, campfires and motorized vehicle use in certain parts of the forest when the risk of catastrophic fires is high.

Forest service spokesperson Randi Shaffer said the agency had to act after facing down two pairs of Type 1 fires over each of the past two years in northern Arizona. Type 1 fires are the most complex and dangerous category of wildfire.

In 2022, the Tunnel and Pipeline fires devastated communities northeast of Flagstaff. And in 2021, the Backbone Fire near Payson and the Rafael Fire near Perkinsville burned nearly a combined 200 square miles of forest.

"Typically, we would have one of those every few years. So if we’re having two per year for the past two years, that’s a little abnormal and kind of made us think about maybe making changes to our fire restrictions," Shaffer said.

The agency is considering expanding the footprint of year-round fire restrictions outside Flagstaff. And banning motorized vehicles in areas under shorter term restrictions. 

Fronteras Wildfires