SPRINGERVILLE – Almost halfway through October and well into Firewood Month, the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests entered Stage 1 Fire Restrictions. The forest is experiencing typical increase in visitors during this time as the fall colors change, large hunts take place, and communities prepare for the winter with fuelwood (firewood) and Christmas Tree harvesting.
Fall fuelwood permits usually go on sale at the monsoons’ onset and occur through the end of the year as conditions allow. This year, as communities experienced what many call “the nonsoon,” the forest has yet to see the much-needed precipitation that decreases fire danger. Fuelwood permits have gone on sale, but the call for public responsibility is being amplified.
“This has been an extremely rare year. We are experiencing a historic drought,” said Forest Supervisor Anthony Madrid. “This calls for extra care when planning and participating in annual activities such as collecting firewood and reminds us not to get complacent. We all have a role to play in preventing human-caused fire by using good judgment, basic safety precautions, and following restrictions set in place.”
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions prohibit the igniting, building, maintaining, or using a fire, including charcoal and briquettes, outside a fire structure that is provided by the Forest Service within a designated area. Smoking is also prohibited except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
“Collecting firewood continues to be a cherished family activity and a necessity to many in our communities to heat their homes and cook their meals,” said ASNFs Vegetation Staff Officer Randy Fuller. “We have no intention of suspending fuelwood permit sales, but we are asking for the community to recognize the increased share of responsibility and to be diligent with their fuelwood cutting activities this year.”
Fuelwood permit rules state that all chainsaws and other internal combustion engines must have an approved spark arrester. Permit holders and designated cutters should always have an approved fire extinguisher and shovel in the immediate area and are responsible for checking with the Forest Service to find out what emergency fire restrictions are in place. These and other permit rules and guidelines can be found on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests website.
To obtain fuelwood permits, check current fire information or to view a copy of the Stage 1 Fire Restrictions Order No. 03-01-21-01, visit on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests website. Or call (928) 333-6280.
The lightning-caused Cow Canyon Fire that started on August 18 has grown to 28,927 acres according to a Tuesday press release. (It was reported at 20,000 acres last Friday, Oct. 9.)
The Cow Canyon Fire is burning in a remote location within the Blue Range Primitive Area near the Arizona and New Mexico state border. 23,817 acres of the fire are located on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, and 5,110 acres are burning on the Gila National Forest.
If you have questions, visit inciweb.nwcg.gov or contact the Forest Service, Apache Sitgreaves National Forests Alpine Ranger District at 928-339-5021.