LAKESIDE — This week marks the 10th anniversary of the Rodeo-Chediski Fire, which burned across the Sitgreaves National Forest and White Mountain Apache Reservation, destroying 425 homes.  And a year ago, the state’s only fire larger than the Rodeo-Chediski, the Wallow Fire, was burning across more than a half million acres of the Apache National Forest.  

Aarea experts will be on hand Saturday, June 23, at the White Mountain Wildlife & Nature Center to look back at these fires and provide insights on what’s being done to help prevent future similar mega-fires, and what role homeowners can play to help ensure that their properties and homes are firesafe.  And despite the tendency to focus on only the negative impacts of these fires, officials will make presentations on the progress made since the Rodeo-Chediski Fire to thin and restore our forests, as well as how wildlife populations were directly affected by that fire and have since responded, and how they can be expected to respond to the Wallow Fire.  

Presentations will be made by the Lakeside and Pinetop Fire Departments and the Lakeside Ranger District on their “Ready, Set, Go” program on developing fire-safe properties and emergency preparedness, and describing what resources are available to homeowners. Arizona Game and Fish Department representatives will describe the short- and long-term relationships of the Rodeo-Chediski  and Wallow fires on wildlife populations.  And for those interested, a short hike with hands-on demonstrations on the Nature Center property will illustrate changes that have occurred to our ponderosa pine forests and principles of improving forest health.  This free program will begin at 10 and last for approximately two hours.  The Nature Center is located at 425 S. Woodland Road in Pinetop-Lakeside; see www.wmnature.org for more information.

On Sunday, June 24, the Nature Center, White Mountain Conservation League, and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests will conduct a tour of the Wallow Fire area, with selected stops to illustrate key lessons learned from the fire.  Experts will be on hand at each stop to interact with participants. Due to ongoing fires, transportation for participants cannot be provided, they will need to provide their own transportation.

• Greer area (meet at 10 a.m. the fire station) – tour background, private land treatment benefits, and area thinning projects;

• Alpine area (meet at Alpine Ranger Station at 12:30 p.m.) – benefit of Wildlife-Urban Interface (WUI) thinning, White Mountain Stewardship Project

• Big Lake area (meet at Three Forks off Forest Road 249, approximately 12 miles west of US 191 at 2 p.m.) –  mixed intensity burn mosaic and wildlife and aspen response to fire

Those wishing to participate in the Sunday tour need to sign up at the Saturday workshop or call the Nature Center at (928) 358-3069. Water and snacks will be provided by the Nature Center; participants should bring their own lunch.

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