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Big Horn Fire Update

Coronado National Forest Update on The Big Horn Fire.
Received from Adam Milnor, Recreation, Heritage, and Lands Staff Officer, Coronado National Forest
Bighorn Fire Recovery –
There’s been a lot of interest in the re-opening of the Santa Catalina trail system and recreation sites after the Bighorn Fire. First, the good news: the fire spared most developed recreation facilities and vistas along Catalina Highway. With the exception of Rose Canyon campground, where the burn encroached on one of the loops, most of the sites emerged unscathed thanks to the tireless work of the wildland firefighters.
The more challenging news is that the trail system, especially on the north side of the mountains, was heavily impacted. Over 120 miles of trails were burned by the Bighorn Fire and most of them remain closed. Approximately 64 of which were either high or moderate severity including portions of the Arizona National Scenic Trail and the ANST wilderness bypass. Popular trails such a Wilderness of Rocks, Pima Canyon and the Green Mountain Trail are within the burn area boundary but are to various degrees. While some of have seen moderate and even beneficial ecological impacts, trails like Canada del Oro and Red Ridge have been very heavily damaged. The major public safety issues are related to hazard trees and the ongoing risk of erosion and debris flows. Some trails, such as Butterfly Trail, have hundreds of nearby standing dead trees, or trees that have fallen across the trail. Other trails, like Romero Canyon, put potential visitors in the path of serious flood risk. Until hazards on the highest risk trails are addressed, these trails simply aren’t safe for trail users or volunteers for now. We have, however, reached out to all of our trail organization partners and asked them to identify which trail projects outside the highest risk areas that might be of interest.
To be frank, recovery will take years and things will never be quite the way we remember them. However, are working diligently to improve the situation and have had multiple certified sawyers out on trails helping to clear them, preparing the way for youth crews or volunteers. The long-running fire season in the West, as you might imagine, has limited the supply of certified sawyers. But our work continues – we have made an investment in young adult crews with the Arizona Conservation Corps, who will be spending nine weeks this winter and spring working to reopen trails. We also welcome organizations who want to contribute time and energy to reach out and find ways to partner with us.
As for the current status, trails outside the burn scar have also been reopened. The fire closure was extended and modified recently, with a number of a high elevation trails like Marshall Gulch, Incinerator Ridge, and portions of the Green Mountain Trail reopened to the public. In total, we have reopened over 90 miles of trail. The current order runs until May 2021, but will continually be reevaluated.

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