SMOKE ON MT. LEMMON? Don't worry, it's just a controlled burn

Published: Nov. 10, 2016 at 1:44 AM MST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2016 at 7:57 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Smoke from prescribed burn. (Source: Nick Reyna)
Smoke from prescribed burn. (Source: Nick Reyna)
Area of prescribed burn of Mt. Bigelow. (Source: US Forest Service/Coronado National Forest)
Area of prescribed burn of Mt. Bigelow. (Source: US Forest Service/Coronado National Forest)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Don't panic if you see smoke coming from Mount Lemmon this week, it's just the Bigelow Prescribed Fire.

According to the Santa Catalina Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest, forest managers will be setting Mt. Bigelow on fire on Monday, Nov. 14 that is if conditions such as temperature, wind speed and direction, as well as relative humidity and fuel moisture are right.

The burn should be 200 acres and last for only a day, according to US Forest Service officials.

Prescribed burns are one of the most effective tools to help restore fire-adapted ecosystems, according to the US Forest Service.  They mimic natural fires by reducing fuels, recycling nutrients, and increasing habitat diversity.

The goals for the Mt. Bigelow burn are as follows:

Bigelow Prescribed Fire Goals:

  • Reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire occurring within the project area by reducing fuel accumulations to more natural levels.
  • Restore fire, under low to moderate fire conditions, into a fire-adapted ecosystem.
  • Maintain vegetation in areas to support desired future conditions.
  • Reduce risk of unplanned ignitions in the Wildland/Urban Interface to reduce risk to fire personnel and the public.

Bigelow Prescribed Fire Resource Objectives:

  • Encourage the reestablishment of native ponderosa pine.
  • Reduce brush and herbaceous vegetation in the understory.
  • Manage fire effects to limit soil erosion and ash from impacting perennial streams.
  • Support high-quality wildlife habitat.

Bigelow Prescribed Fire Objectives:

  • Continually evaluate and maintain firefighter and public safety.
  • Maintain fire within the boundaries of the Bigelow Prescribed Fire Planning Area.
  • Decrease seedling and sapling density (trees less than six-inch diameter) by 30 to 60 percent within one year.
  • Minimize mortality of trees over 18 inches in diameter over one year.  (Less than 20 percent mortality in overstory trees.)
  • Increase average canopy base height of the stand.
  • Reduce forest floor fuels (dead-and-down woody fuels, litter and duff) to more natural levels.

Visitors should avoid the area for safety reasons and to allow fire managers to do their job. Forest trails will be temporarily closed and will be signed as such.

Prescribed Fire" signs will be posted in appropriate locations along the Catalina Highway. Flaggers may be used to facilitate a one-way traffic pattern as needed. Smoke may be visible from outlying areas, including Tucson.  Motorists should drive with caution as smoke may impair visibility during daylight or nighttime hours.

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.