On May 1st, 2017 the Mogollon Rim District of the Coconino National Forest completed a 3,550 acre prescribed burn known as the Jacks Canyon – Banfield Spring Forest Restoration Project and Prescribed Fire. This work was supported by the National Forest Foundation as part of watershed restoration efforts under the Northern Arizona Forest Fund. The prescribed fire was strategically located to burn adjacent to the Pinnacle Peak 345 KV powerline that provides power to the greater Phoenix area.
Just a few weeks later on May 19th, the lightning-caused Snake Ridge fire was detected adjacent to the Banfield Prescribed fire project. Forest Managers allowed the Snake Ridge Fire to burn, and managed the fire for multiple resource benefits, including:
- reducing fuels,
- protecting water supplies for downstream users,
- returning fire to the fire-adapted ecosystem and
- protecting the valuable power line infrastructure.
Because of the fire’s proximity, the U.S. Forest Service integrated Banfield Prescribed Burn into the management of the Snake Ridge wildfire, and where normally the prevailing winds would take the smoke into the powerline and potentially cause either arcing or the necessity to de-energize the powerline, now the powerline is more fully protected.
Altogether, 18,880 acres were treated with fire between the wildfire and the prescribed fire. The two fires reduced fuel loadings across the landscape, thus reducing the risk of an uncharacteristic stand-replacing fire. In addition to protecting our water, these fires protected the 345-KV Pinnacle Peak powerline, which ensured that our lights stayed on and the water kept flowing. Thanks to partners like the NFF, the Salt River Project, businesses and many Valley Cities for helping us achieve these goals through funding, implementation, and collaborative coordination!
About the Author
Dick Fleishman is the Operations Coordinator Four Forest Restoration Initiative, the largest forest restoration project in the history of the Forest Service. Prior to this position, Dick worked as a hydrologist, a pre-sale forester, a timber sale administrator, and in Forest planning on the Coconino National Forest. Dick has a Bachelor of Science in Forest Management, as well as a Master’s in Public Administration from Northern Arizona University. Dick may be contacted at email@example.com, or at 928-226-4687.