Sections Of Tonto National Forest Closed For Extreme Fire Risk

By Claire Caulfield
Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 - 12:31pm
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Starting Wednesday, large sections of Arizona’s largest national forest will close due to “extremely high fire risk.”

Forest officials say drought conditions, hot temperatures and increased fire danger have compelled them to completely close large sections of the Tonto National Forest until further notice.

“It will probably remain in effect until we get rain and it looks like that will be the monsoon season,” said Forest Service spokeswoman Carrie Templin. “Hopefully it will arrive on time in early July.”

All other national forests in the state are under Stage Two fire restrictions, which limits recreational activities like building campfires, target shooting or driving off-road.

“We know that this is going to impact a lot of people wanting to go recreate over the Memorial Day weekend,” Templine said. “But we do ask that people who are out that in areas that still remain open to remember that we are under complete fire restriction.”

It’s a Class B misdemeanor to violate fire restrictions or enter closed areas, which means a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or imprisonment of up to six months, or both.

Closed areas include:

  • All Tonto National Forest land north of Payson to the forest boundary (Mogollon Rim) between the White Mountain Apache Reservation on the eastern boundary, and the Coconino National Forest on the western boundary.  

  • The southern boundary of the closure will start at the Fossil Creek trailhead and head southeasterly along the powerline corridor to Arizona State Highway 87 into Payson and then follow Arizona State Highway 260 east from Payson, along National Forest System Road (NFSR) 405 and NFSR 405A to the National Forest System Trail 178 east along Haigler Creek to the White Mountain Apache Reservation.

  • All National Forest System Lands, roads and trails within the Mt. Ord, Four Peaks and Three Bar Wildlife areas.

  • The Tonto Creek and Canyon Creek fish hatcheries operated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

National Forest System Road 583 from State Highway 87 will remain open for access to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park and Arizona highways 87, 260 and 188 are also open.

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