It’s a cool autumn morning and ponderosa pines gently sway in the light breeze.
The chirping of birds echoing through the canopy is suddenly interrupted by radio feedback; the crunching of pine needles against weathered boots startles a flock of wild turkeys from the undergrowth.
The go-no-go checklist and weather measurements are read, and the first taste of fire meets the ground. Creeping flames hungrily consume the forest floor. There are the Pop! Crack! sounds from discarded pinecones.
The nostalgic smell of a campfire fills the air, and wildland firefighters mobilize. With drip torches in hand, they spread out along the containment line and proceed into the forest while white plumes of smoke slowly rise behind them, concealing their advancement into the trees.
This integrated vegetation management project is one of several landscape-scale restoration projects within the Yanawant Restoration Landscape. Projects within the Restoration Landscape are prioritized for funding under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) to improve ecosystem health and wildlife habitat; opportunities for recreation; and more resilience to wildfire, drought and climate change.
On September 25, 28 wildland fire personnel from the BLM and the National Park Service gathered near Mt. Trumbull to treat 1,100 acres of public lands using prescribed fire. The Ranger prescribed fire treatment reduced surface fuels to help maintain the desired vegetation conditions and enhance the overall health and resiliency of the ponderosa pine forest, pinyon-juniper woodland, and sagebrush communities.
Other benefits of the Ranger prescribed fire include improving habitat for turkey, Kaibab squirrel, mule deer, pygmy nuthatch, and raptors; protecting soils from accelerated rates of erosion and to enhance soil nutrient cycling and productivity; protecting life, property, infrastructure, and wildlife habitat from deleterious wildfire effects; and continuing to restore wildfire as an integral part of the ecosystem, particularly in the ponderosa pine forest. The Ranger unit is one of 17 prescribed fire treatments within the Uinkaret Project, totaling approximately 37,790 acres.
The Arizona Strip District strives to build resilient landscapes by restoring habitat for threatened and endangered species, reducing fuel loads and wildfire risk, improving drought resilience and ecosystem health, stabilizing soils, restoring native plant communities for wildlife cover and connectivity, and helping to improve and sustain the watershed’s overall function.
To ensure public safety, firefighters conduct treatments only when weather conditions are conducive to safely burn and they remain on scene to monitor public and resource safety. The Arizona Strip District will continue to engage partners and stakeholders in the planning and implementation of projects within the Yanawant Restoration Landscape to increase the return on IRA and BIL investments on behalf of the American people.