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Small-scale flood mitigation proceeds as officials plan long-term projects

Flagstaff Flooding
Ryan Heinsius/KNAU
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Residents of Meade Lane in Coconino Estates shovel mud from their properties in the aftermath of flooding on Fri, July 29, 2022.

Coconino County officials have approved $11.5 million for small-scale flood mitigation near Flagstaff. It follows a summer of devastating flooding caused by major wildfires on the San Francisco Peaks.

The project involves a series of berms designed to bolster some existing flood mitigation work and reduce impacts to Doney Park, which was among the most heavily affected areas last summer. Construction is set to begin immediately.

At a meeting this week, county supervisors, flood officials and others also discussed the larger plan for long-term mitigation across nine watersheds burned by the 26,500-acre Pipeline Fire. It includes on-forest alluvial fan restoration and sediment reduction designed to ease impacts to the west side of Flagstaff. Officials say those projects along with other initiatives will require tens of millions of dollars in federal funding.

County officials also discussed a forest restoration partnership with the Coconino National Forest and City of Flagstaff set for the upper Rio de Flag watershed on the west side of the San Francisco Peaks. They say it’s a crucial step to lessening the threat of further catastrophic wildfire in dry forests stricken by extreme drought.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.