Despite the Slide Fire, 2014 an Average Wildfire Season on Coconino NF
After northern Arizona’s sixth driest winter on record, forest managers anticipated a busier-than-normal wildfire season in 2014. But, as Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the season was less extreme than expected.
Fire season unofficially began in March this year, about a month ahead of schedule. But despite the 21,000-acre Slide Fire, local forest officials characterize the wildfire season as average. Managers with the Coconino National Forest reported 50 human-caused fires in 2014, a significant decrease from recent years.
Don Muise is the fire and aviation staff officer for the Coconino National Forest.
“Actually, over the last 10 or 12 years we’ve seen a reduction in the number of human-caused fires. I think the community as a whole has embraced the idea that they need to take action to make sure that we reduce that risk as much as possible,” Muise said.
Muise says excluding the Slide Fire, human activity caused nearly 1,400 acres to burn on the Coconino this year. But so far in 2014, officials with the Coconino have managed nearly 11,000 acres of lightning-caused fire.
“The expectation is that either through managed fire or prescribed fire we are going to see a fairly sizable uptick in the amount of acres that we burn every year. We don’t want to pass risk on to future generations or to our neighbors,” Muise said.
Managers with the Coconino National Forest anticipate an active prescribed-fire season this fall.