Improve Fire Prevention and Suppression Reduce Hazardous FuelsRestore Fire Adapted Ecosystems Promote Community AssistanceSummary


WGA Goal - Restore Fire Adapted Ecosystems

Actions to meet goal

  • Perform burned area stabilization and rehabilitation work in emergency areas
  • Restore burned areas and repair and improve lands unlikely to recover
  • Place priority on at risk watersheds that have been damaged by wildland fire
  • Establish native seeds and other plant material
  • Publicize and train in the use of minimum impact suppression activities
  • Promote research of effective restoration practices
  • Research interactions between fire, land management and other disturbances

Blue Ridge Demonstration ProjectBlue Ridge Demo Project map

There have been no restoration efforts in Eagar. The most impressive example of restoration in the area is 40 miles west of Eagar in Pinetop-Lakeside. The Blue Ridge Demonstration Project brought together the Natural Resource Working Group, comprised of local, state, federal and private representatives. The group wanted to find a more collaborative way to restore the forests and develop economic opportunities in northern Arizona. The USFS had a 17,000 acre section NEPA ready area called The Blue Ridge Ecosystem Analysis area. The Environmental Assessment for the area was approved in 1997. The Natural Resources Working Group was looking for a restoration project and thought this area would be a good demonstration project. The Blue Ridge Demonstration Project (BRDP) was born.

The project area borders the community of Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ on two sides and private land on two sides. In April 1997, the decision was made on the prescriptions and in September 1997 sections marked for thinning. 1000 acres were marked and prepared. The Morgan timber sale consisted of 650 acres and was the first section treated in 1997. The Morgan timber sale proceeded smoothly because the pulp mill in Snowflake, AZ was still paying for and utilizing SDT. In 1997 the pulp mill quit taking wood material and converted to a paper recycle mill. This presented a problem for the project because no one would bid on the remaining sections; there was no place to take SDT and the contracts stipulated removal of slash and SDT. The USFS contacted Walkers Brothers, local loggers working in New Mexico, and told them about the number of National Fire Plan community assistance grants available in hope of getting them back in the area. Walkers returned and successfully bid on three contracts for the project.

Ed Collins talkThree treatments and a control area were planned. The USFS used the Forest Plan prescription goshawk prescription, which is designed to protect yellow pine by removing competing younger trees a distance of ½ to one crown diameter, and creating foraging areas average 60-80 basal area. Northern Arizona University (NAU) used a "Presettlement Restoration" prescription based on NAU's restorative guidelines. They are designed to protect all trees older than pre-settlement age, to thin from below, to reduce competition from smaller trees and to begin to restore character and structure of pre-settlement forests. The final prescription was to be a Natural Process Restoration prescription developed from guidelines proposed by environmental community representatives. Natural Process Restoration was to be designed to go slower than other treatments, to be more cautious and conservative in thinning from below, and to retain a higher percentage of younger and smaller trees. However, local environmental groups did not have knowledge or experience in developing a prescription, so they solicited the assistance of the Southwest Forest Alliance. The Southwest Alliance did not have the time to work on their section (marking) and had difficulties coming up with the prescription.

In 2002, 393 acres were treated. In 2003, 341 acres were treated. In 1998-1999 the project received $250,000 in special funding. In 2000, the project received $1,000,000 in special funding. Since 2000, the project has used regular program dollars out of the districts annual budget. There is not a reoccurring fire regime in NEPA for this project. They want to get the ground in a state to allow natural fire on the land.

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Copyright©2004 Toddi A. Steelman and North Carolina State University

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