Upper San Pedro Watershed Wildfire Hazard Assessment and Mitigation Plan

The San Pedro River is one of the most important migratory corridors for birds in the Western Hemisphere.  The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, a 40-mile-long section of the San Pedro River managed by the Bureau of Land Management in southern Arizona, is home to more than 100 species of breeding birds and provides invaluable habitat for up to four million migratory birds each year.

In response to the severe wildfires that occurred in the summer of 2000, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior developed the National Fire Plan, a program to reduce wildland fire risks to communities and the environment.  As part of the Plan, the Wildland Urban Interface Communities at Risk Program was designed to reduce the risk of wildland fire in urban interface communities through education, prevention, hazardous fuels reduction, and to increase fire protection capabilities.  Using funding available from the Plan, the Safford/Tucson Fire Management Zone completed a wildfire hazard assessment and mitigation plan for the lands in and adjacent to the National Conservation Area.  The goal of the project was to evaluate the potential for wildfire and to identify specific actions to reduce the risk of loss of life, property, structures and riparian habitat.  By minimizing the ability of fire to move across the wildland-urban interface, the safety of both private homes and the riparian area is increased.

Specific recommendations in the mitigation plan include:

  • Creating fire breaks and fuel breaks to prevent wildfire spread across the wildland-urban interface;
  • Reducing fuels along access roads to increase safety during evacuations and for incoming emergency personnel;
  • Reducing hazardous fuels around BLM structures on the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area;
  • Increasing cooperation between the BLM, the local fire departments and private land owners;
  • Increasing the capabilities and efficiency of the local fire departments through the improvement of water supplies, neighborhood access, and street and address signage.

The second phase of this plan is the actual implementation of the recommendations. The Safford/Tucson Fire Management Zone has already completed several of the projects recommended by the assessment.

Plan Reports