TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - A fuels reduction project in the Santa Rita Mountains will be conducted during the last two weeks of April.
The Nogales Ranger District, Coronado National Forest will implement prescribed burning on 250 acres in the vicinity of Gardner Canyon. The project area is approximately six miles northwest of Sonoita along Santa Rita Road.
The purposes of the project are to reduce hazardous fuels and potential wildfire intensity in the wildland urban interface in the Sonoita, Gardner Canyon and Hog Canyon residential areas; to improve forest health by reducing canopy cover from encroaching woody species; to restore the native semi-desert grassland; to improve wildlife habitat and to restore fuel loading to a more natural level to aid in returning the forest area into a more fire-resistant and resilient state.
Fuels consist of oak, juniper, manzanita, grasses and leaf litter. Some wood has been cut and piled within the burn area. Broadcast burning and burning of the interior piles will be used to remove the excess vegetation from the landscape.
Signs indicating prescribed burning in the area will be placed on State Highway 83 and Santa Rita Road. Smoke is expected to dissipate to the north and east and should not impair visibility.
While no closures will be put into place, traffic on Santa Rita Road will be held for short periods of time to allow firefighters and equipment to move freely during ignitions.
Partners on the project include Green Valley Fire Department, Patagonia Fire Department, Rincon Fire Department, Rio Rico Fire Department and Sonoita Fire Department.