Springerville, AZ – Crews are continuing to reduce hazards and install white-arrow designation signs on roads within the Wallow Fire area. Additional roads and trails will be open beginning August 15 at noon.
Motorized use within the fire perimeter is allowed on roads designated as open, indicated with white arrow signs. With certain exceptions for motorized big game retrieval, cross-country (off road) motorized travel is prohibited. Non-motorized entry is allowed in areas designated as open. The white arrow system applies only to roads within the Wallow Fire perimeter.
Many hazards still exist throughout the burn area, including falling trees, stump holes, and flooding. As additional areas within the Wallow Fire perimeter are reopened, visitors should always remember to Look Up, Look Down, and Look Around when entering the forest. Each person is responsible for his or her own safety.
“We’re working hard to open as many areas as possible,” says Chris Knopp, ASNFs Forest Supervisor. “However, public safety is our number one priority, so some closures and restrictions will remain in place until the hazards are significantly reduced. We appreciate the patience of forest visitors as we continue moving forward with stabilization and rehabilitation efforts.”
All open areas are subject to closure at any time if safety conditions change, and travelers should remember that most roads are not currently maintained for passenger vehicle use; high-clearance vehicles are recommended.
Motorized roads and trails
Roads and trails that will be designated as open beginning Monday at noon include the following.
Saffell Canyon Motorized Trail
FR 24 from FR 26 to Big Lake
FR405, FR 406, FR 276 to the junction of FR 37
FR 68 and FR 403 These roads pass through closure areas. Though the roads will be designated as open, forest entry is prohibited in these areas.
Forest managers are revising the map periodically to reflect new openings. Roads signed with white arrows that aren’t reflected on the map are open for travel as long as they’re not closed with gates, barricades, etc and/or other signs.
Trails and trailheads
All trails accessing the Blue River Primitive Area along US 191, FR 567, and FR 281 will be open Monday at noon. Throughout the coming weeks, visitors can expect that trails signed as open have been mitigated of most hazards such as falling trees. All other trails in designated open areas have not been, and pose a higher risk to users. Each visitor is responsible for his or her own safety. Before choosing a parking or camping spot, Look Up, Look Down, and Look Around.
Many developed campgrounds are open for use including Acre Lake, KP Cienega, and Stray Horse campgrounds. Certain locations will remain closed through at least the next several months including South Fork Campground and all the developed recreation sites in East Fork and West Fork of the Black River.
Dispersed camping is allowed within 30 feet of any route designated as open with a white arrow, in areas designated as open. Forest entry and dispersed camping further than 30 feet from an open roadway is allowable by non-motorized means only, and only in areas designated as open on the map. Each visitor is responsible for his or her own safety. While entering any area designated as open within the burn perimeter, Look Up, Look Down, and Look Around.
Big Game Hunting
Hunters with a valid license may hunt within the fire perimeter as long as they are driving only on roads designated as open with the posting of a white arrow, or entering via non-motorized means into off-road areas designated as open on the map.
Legally harvested game may be retrieved by off-road motorized means in areas designated as open, and only if vehicles do not cause resource damage. Driving cross-country to scout or pursue game is prohibited.
Motorized and non-motorized entry into areas designated as closed is also prohibited. Exceptions for retrieval of mortally wounded or harvested game may be granted on a case-by-case basis by the Arizona Game and Fish Department or the Apache-Sitgreaves NF. To request an exception, hunters must contact the Operation Game Thief hotline (24-hour, 7-day/week) at-1-800-352-0700, the Alpine Ranger District Office at (928)339-5000, or the Springerville District office at (928)333-6200) during normal business hours prior to entering closure areas. Hunters should remember that hazards such as falling trees, stump holes, and flooding continue to exist throughout the forest. Each visitor is responsible for his or her own safety. Before entering any forest area, Look Up, Look Down, and Look Around.
For a copy of the closure order, a comprehensive list of roads, trails, and recreation sites, as well as maps indicating open and closed areas, visit the ASNFs website, www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf or your local ASNFs office. Violations are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.00 for individuals and $10,000.00 for organizations, imprisonment up to six months, or both.
For additional hunting information, contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department or visit the website at www.azgfd.gov.