According to Tusayan District Ranger Rick Stahn, the project involves a variety of strategies to reduce density. These include mechanical thinning of about 700 acres to remove lower branches and trees less than 12 inches in diameter and mowing 200 acres of understory fuels like sagebrush and smaller trees, followed by burning. It also calls for burning only on more than 460 acres. The area is a mix of pinion-juniper with sagebrush understory and ponderosa pine and gambrel oak.
The project would begin after the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1 when money becomes available, Stahn said.
Stahn said residents should be specific in their comments.
“If they know certain areas that they don’t want burned or hinned for whatever reason,” said Stahn. “They should let us know why they support the project or are dead set against it. The more specific they can be, the more helpful it is for us. We may be able work with them or mitigate the problem.”
According to the scoping letter released last month, the project has priority because of the moderate to high risk of wildfire and its proximity to private property, the Tusayan community and Grand Canyon National Park.
Wood cut during the mechanical treatment will be available during firewood gathering season which runs from May 1-Dec. 15. Permits, available for $20, allow for removal of four cords of wood.
Stahn said that free permits are also available starting May 1 for the Topeka area, west of Moqui along Forest Road 328. That area was treated last fall and is open for cutting of standing dead trees up to 12 inches in diameter.
Forward comments to Heather Neeley, Tusayan Ranger District, PO Box 3088, Grand Canyon, Ariz., 86023. They can also be hand-delivered to the Tusayan Ranger District Office from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. E-mail comments to comments-southwestern-Kaibab-Tusayan@fed.fs.us.