Prescott case study
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

There has not been a large effort in terms of restoring fire adapted ecosystems beyond the Indian Fire Restoration Project. Although some prescribed burning has taken place, much more is needed. The main problem is people do not want to deal with the smoke and the risk associated with control burns on public land.

Indian Fire Restoration Project

rebuilding homeOn May 15, 2002, the Indian Fire burned approximately 1,345 acres (1,329 acres of National Forest land and 16 acres of private land) just south of Prescott. 1,500 people were evacuated and seven structures burned in the Cathedral Pines subdivision. The fire killed approximately 64% of the trees on the acreage. Most of the remaining 36% are dead are dying because of infestation of bark beetles. The Bradshaw Ranger District developed the Indian Fire Restoration Project and proposed to cut and remove dead or dying ponderosa pine on 894 acres using existing access, plant ponderosa pine seedlings on up to 730 acres, construct recreation facilities within the burned area along highway 89 and leave enough slash in the harvested areas to achieve 50% surface ground cover and reseed disturbed areas.

In March 2003, District Ranger Ernie Del Rio issued a decision to Indian Fireclear out 894 acres of dead trees lost during the 2002 Indian Fire in southeastern Prescott. The purpose of the project was to eliminate the hazard of falling tees and reforest the area. The plan was appealed by the Prescott National Forest Friends, who cited impacts on soils as the justification. The issue was referred to the Appeal Deciding Officer, Abel Camerena at the USFS regional headquarters in Albuquerque, NM, Camerena reversed the original decision and upheld the appeal, citing the need for further analysis. USFS officials now have been ordered to 1) improve the descriptions of the proposed actions; 2) complete a new effects analysis; and 3) complete the appropriate NEPA documentation.


Environmental Opposition and Concerns

Prescott National Forest Friends (PNFF), which is one man, single handedly stopped the remediation of the Indian Fire. PNFF was organized in 1987 by about 10 people. Jim Powers, Chairman, joined PNF in 1988 after moving to Prescott. He has been chairman since 1995. PNFF appealed the Indian Fire Restoration Project because of impacts on soils and the plan allowed timber companies to remove large diameter trees greater than 9 inches while leaving the smaller diameter trees. Most of the forest (80%) is small diameter trees, leaving only 20% as large diameter trees. The Restoration Project needs a plan for the small trees as well and the large. Currently PNFF, Southwest Forest Alliance and Center for Biological Diversity are considering a lawsuit on the Boundary Project based on similar reasons.

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Copyright©2003 Toddi A. Steelman and North Carolina State University

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