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News Flash • Collaboration Begins On Forest Restoration in U

The Coconino County Flood Management District (District) and the Coconino National Forest announced a new restoration plan for the upper Rio Deflag watershed to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and post-fire flooding.

“Forest restoration, including mechanical thinning and prescribed fire, has proven to be an effective means of reducing the spread and severity of wildfires,” said Coconino County Forest Restoration Director Jay Smith. Stated. “Completing forest restoration in the upper Rio de Flag watershed will benefit our region for generations.”

The Upper Rio de Flag watershed reforestation plan focuses on six different project areas totaling more than 12,000 acres, more than half of the entire 21,500-acre watershed. The plan was developed based on a series of studies that demonstrated significant wildfire and post-wildfire flooding risks in the region.

The project goal is to treat these six project areas within the next five years through a variety of partnerships and agreements between the Forest Service, districts, timber industry, conservation organizations, and other partners.

“These six projects were selected as priority treatment areas based on their overall impact potential and ability to quickly implement forest restoration,” said Matt McGrath, Coconino National Forest District Ranger. . “These acres include large amounts of untreated, heavily used areas where catastrophic wildfires could occur and spread into the San Francisco Mountains and the upper Rio de Flag watershed wilderness areas. It is.”

Forest treatments such as mechanical thinning and prescribed fire protection are a key part of the Forest Service's 10-year Wildfire Crisis Strategy, which helps reduce the wildfire crisis in places that pose the most immediate threat to communities, such as Flagstaff. It is aimed at dealing with.

A combination of mechanical thinning and prescribed fire in the upper Rio de Flag watershed has removed large amounts of woody biomass (“dead wood” and “dead wood”) accumulated over decades of historic fire suppression; It will act as “fuel” for a fire. Unwanted wildfire.

“Other forest restoration projects in the area, such as Bill Williams Mountain, have seen up to 100 tons of dead trees and logging per acre,” Smith said. “This is a lot of fuel for potential wildfires, and it's essential that we address that fuel as part of the forest restoration process.”

The plan also includes implementation of an “aggressive watershed restoration pilot program,” explained Flood Control District Administrator Lucinda Andreani.

“Decades of post-wildfire flood mitigation experience has taught us that forest watershed restoration is critical to reducing erosion and the impacts of downstream flooding,” Andreani said. Ta. “Up until now, we have only pursued watershed restoration after wildfires, but with the help of our partners at JE Fuller Hydrology and Natural Channel Design, we are actively building watershed functions in the upper Rio de Flag watershed. We have identified opportunities for recovery, which provide ecological benefits and help us stay ahead of the potential for post-wildfire flooding.”

The current estimate to treat six project areas in the upper Rio de Flag watershed is $26 million. Pending administrative approval, the Regional Bureau and Forest Service have so far accounted for about $13 million of the cost. The Forest Service will lead the development of any contracts, grants, or allocations needed to account for the remaining funds.

“Having endured nine major wildfires since 2010, the people of Coconino County are well aware of the threat posed by devastating wildfires and post-wildfire flooding,” Coconino County District 1 said Supervisor Patrice Horstman. “We know these investments are well-founded and critical to the future of our communities.”

The Rio de Flag Upper Watershed Restoration Plan is being worked in parallel with other ongoing Coconino National Forest projects, including the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project, which is part of the larger Four Forests Restoration Initiative. Reduce future risk of catastrophic wildfires and post-fire flooding. Located in the Flagstaff area.

“The goal of the Coconino County Forest Restoration Initiative has always been to apply a data-driven approach to the county’s top two public safety threats: wildfires and post-wildfire flooding,” said Coconino County Board Chair and Director. said District 2 Superintendent Geronimo Vasquez. . “We have the data, we have a strong partner in the Coconino National Forest, and now we have a plan to make our goals a reality.”

Information on how to access recordings of reforestation plan presentations can be found at For more information, visit

Sean Golightly
Community Relations Manager
Coconino County Flood Management District
(928) 607-8805

randy schafer
Public Relations Deputy
USDA Forest Service, Coconino National Forest
(928) 640-2774

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