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colin

National Forests

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Out of Arizona's six national forests, three are now closed due to extreme fire danger: Coconino, Kaibab and Tonto. The other three, Apache-Sitgreaves, Coronado and Prescott, are still open, but have fire restrictions in place (no campfires outside of developed areas, no smoking outside of vehicles). In New Mexico, Cibola NF has already been closed for over a month, and Lincoln was closed but I'm not sure of its current status.

The fire restrictions are nothing new this year, but it's still frustrating that all must pay for the carelessness of a few others (or at least the threat thereof). And where the hell is the rain? Last year, this whole thing would have been unthinkable with our overly wet winter.

I'm an outdoors person, but can't stand developed campgrounds, so I won't be out anyway. I've been surprised that Coronado has remained open. They've been psycho about fire danger since the Aspen Fire in '03. I once drove up to Mount Lemmon while it was raining, and had been so for several days, and the fire danger sign still said "Moderate" (I was turned away by the sheriff at 5000' because of heavy snow).

I've read things from people in Apache-Sitgreaves who are worried that the closing of the forests will push recreation-seeking people from a certain ginormous metro area (no names mentioned) into their forest, thus greatly increasing the fire danger there. And, of course, the July 4th is weekend is right upon us, which is traditionally one of the biggest weekends of the year for awkward camping trips in the mountains with relatives, extension-chord-snaking-for-powering-of-nonstop-radio excursions, and, two words, "Bud Lite".

Any thoughts?

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not a lot of thought from me - yet. i haven't experienced the back-to-nature clash with suburbanites you describe, mainly because i haven't been to any of the outdoor camping / weekender type of areas in the summer before. i have been planning to hit up sabino canyon or perhaps mt. lemmon, but people have advised me to wait until fall because of the local crowds.

i have read that fires, particularly in southern arizona, are a greater threat than in the past - primarily because of the introduction of invasive plant species over the past few decades. they supposedly provide ground cover in a way that the sonoran previously simply did not have, thereby providing the dry fuel for wildfires. i admire the little saturday volunteer group that sets out to eradicate the non-native grasses, etc. in tucson. i even thought about going out one saturday and helping, but whom am i kidding: it would be to get to know people, not to make a damn bit of difference in reclaiming the desert. there's just no way a finger in the crack can stop the dam from breaking. the desert's just too big. i'm a fatalist about it, unless real power gets involved (i.e., gov't).

on the I-10 night drive heading west from phoenix last saturday, we could see a pretty impressive wildfire to the south for nearly an hour. i looked at my atlas and listened to robert rappaporT (gotta emphasize that last T; k-u-a-z news!) for the rundown on fires, but we never could figure out which fire this was (is?)

has anyone seen any of the AZ fires at distance (hell, or up close)? i want to see what five-digit burning acreage looks like in some of AZ's open spaces. judging from the fire we saw, it looks incredibly small. not saying i want there to be a fire so i can see it - i just wonder how big a big fire looks under the open sky. just like i don't want to get killed by a tornado, but whenever i had the chance to chase them....

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i just wonder how big a big fire looks under the open sky. just like i don't want to get killed by a tornado, but whenever i had the chance to chase them....

Tornado Chasing, we do that in MI often. Convulso you bring up a good point. I wonder what those fires look like myself. I've not seen a forest fire ever. I've been to Sedona though. I really like it there, I hope that the city stays safe. But yeah me personally I know very little about the subject.

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Yes, summer is the worst time to be out camping as far as crowds go, and, since they've restricted camping to developed sites only, it'll only be worse this year. The problem is that, in most forest areas, it's still in the mid-50's at night, so you can imagine what happens in September. I tried to camp near Alpine in late April once and had to leave because I wasn't well prepared for how cold it got.

Buffelgrass is the invasive species. I think it would be great if you went out on volunteer removal, regardless of the motive. You're only going to meet like-minded individuals who care about the desert and are also willing to spend their weekend helping. It would only lead to bigger and better helpful things, too.

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Coming from a place where cold is your middle name. If you're camping anytime that's not during the summer, it's best to bring people and huddle for warmth at night. Of course, it tends to get a little brokeback mountainy depending on who your camping with.

What is buffelgrass

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Coconino, Tonto and Kaibab are mostly open again "because fire danger has been reduced by increased moisture and humidity".

The Red Rock District of Coconino, which is the area around Sedona, is still closed, as is a section in the northern part of Kaibab, which I think is actually in Utah.

Fire restrictions are also still in place.

On my drive down US 191 between Alpine and Clifton through Apache-Sitgreaves, the forest looked bad. Lots of dried-out and dead trees, even some recent burns, although they may have been controlled. They had a bad fire up there last year, but hopefully the rains coming in means that they're in the clear.

It seems that the Southwest dodged a major bullet this year. I mean, there were only a couple of fires, and nothing overly crazy. I'd even go so far as to say that it was a comparably calm year.

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No, not by any means, but with the rains coming on time this year, the worst should be over.

But, yes, certainly don't go throwing blow torches out of your car or practice fire eating next time you're in the woods.

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Colin, when these kinds of things close down the forests, does it have a big impact on AZ tourism? Or is it limited? I dont imagine AZ cities garner alot of tourists. But I really have no idea.

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I dont imagine AZ cities garner alot of tourists. But I really have no idea.

Tourism is one of AZ's biggest economic driving factors (nod to another thread). Sedona, Show Low and Bisbee are all completely reliant on tourism. Sedona has been especially devastated by the fire this year, not that it really burned, but everyone cancelled on them because of the fires.

A lot of other towns, especially around lakes or near national parks like Flagstaff, Seligman, Chinle, Williams, Kayenta and quite a few others are heavily reliant on tourism. Other towns like Tucson, Phoenix, Lake Havasu, Payson and Cottonwood would also receive a significant blow if the tourists just decided to stay away.

The national forest closures interrupted tourism in Sedona and Flagstaff, I know. I doubt many people from outside the area would go to the more isolated parts of the forests. I'm not sure about that though.

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Well they don't all have the survival skills that you do that's for sure.

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Well, I think it has to do with people being so freaked out about driving on dirt roads, which is where the coolest stuff in the forest usually is. People living in the Southwest seem to be accustomed to it somewhat, but those from other areas seem incredibly reluctant to take their rental cars, or even their own cars, off of pavement.

Although maybe it's my own wanton disregard for others' property that makes me uninhibited about driving rental cars on dirt roads.

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