TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) -Fire managers at Saguaro National Park plan to conduct a prescribed burn on Mica Mountain in the Saguaro Wilderness of the Rincon Mountain District this spring when conditions are favorable.
The prescribed burn is currently planned for late April or early May.
The Mica Bowl Prescribed Burn area is divided into several burn units. Up to 541 acres may be treated with prescribed fire. Ignitions may continue for approximately two - three days. Fire managers will only conduct the prescribed burn when environmental factors such as wind, temperature, and relative humidity are favorable. Additional information, including a map and updates will be posted HERE.
The following backcountry trails will be closed during prescribed burn operations: Bonita, Spud Rock, Mica Mountain, Mica Meadow, Fire Loop Heartbreak Ridge, between the junctions of south Mica Mountain and Italian Spring, and the Arizona Trail and Fire Loop between the junctions of Cowhead Saddle and Italian Spring and Cowhead Saddle to Manning Camp.
Arizona Trail hikers should plan for temporary delays; however, fire managers will escort Arizona Trail hikers through the Arizona Trail / Fire Loop, between the junctions of Cowhead Saddle and Italian Springs and Cowhead Saddle to Manning Camp, when it is safe to do so.
Availability at the backcountry Manning Camp campground will be limited during the prescribed burn.
Due to the location of the burn on the highest peak of the Rincon Mountains, smoke will be visible from Tucson, Redington Pass, Benson, Mescal and Happy Valley during the prescribed burn. Smoke may temporarily drift downhill overnight in the Redington Pass, Rincon Creek and San Pedro River Valley drainages.
Smoke is expected to be present on backcountry trails within the vicinity of Mica Mountain for at least a week or until significant precipitation occurs. Backcountry campers could experience light to moderate smoke with greater concentration for those camping at Manning Camp and Spud Rock campgrounds especially during the early morning hours for two to five days following the completion of prescribed fire ignitions.
Vegetation in the area is predominately ponderosa pine. Elevation in the area ranges from approximately 7,950 to 8,670 feet. Lightning-ignited fires have historically burned through the high elevation ponderosa pine forests of southeastern Arizona, but past fire suppression has created unnatural conditions with build-ups of downed trees and dense underbrush in many places. Fire managers use low to moderate intensity prescribed fires to maintain healthy forests in the Rincon Mountains and to prevent large intense wildfires.