Arizona’s Wallow Fire is 100% Controlled; Campgrounds Reopen
Officials from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests announced Tuesday (July 12) the Wallow Fire is officially 100% controlled, and all fire personnel and resources are being released from the fire, the White Mountain Independent reported.
(Editor’s Note: Since it began on May 29, the Wallow Fire consumed 817 square miles (522,900 acres) across eastern Arizona and 24 square miles (15,000 acres) in western New Mexico. More than 30 structures were destroyed and numerous campgrounds were closed. It was Arizona’s largest wildfire on record.)
Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER ) will continue implementation of treatments of straw mulching, straw bombing and seeding in the high burned severity areas. Information to the public on the time lines, locations for scheduled treatments will be announced as information is received.
The Sitgreaves Forest is open for recreation and is in Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, which means fires are allowed only in developed campsites.
The Apache Forest is still under Emergency Closure for recreation, except for areas described below.
Several major recreation areas on the Apache National Forest opened at noon on July 8: Big Lake and the adjacent developed campgrounds, Greer lakes and the nearby developed campgrounds, Lee Valley and Winn Campground, Nelson Reservoir, and Luna Lake. Stage 2 Fire Restrictions will remain in place, which means that no campfires will be allowed, even in developed campgrounds. Access to Big Lake is by Highway 273 only (Sunrise Highway) as Highway 261 is still unsafe for motor vehicle use due to damaged guardrails.
Lee Valley Reservoir, Luna Lake, Crescent Lake, and the three Greer lakes are for day use only. Please note that the remainder of the Apache National Forest is closed to public entry at this time due to the many safety hazards present in the aftermath of the Wallow Fire.
The Clifton Ranger District remains closed to public entry at this time until sufficient rain has fallen.
These specific areas opened on Friday on the Alpine and Springerville Ranger Districts include:
- Big Lake/Crescent Lake Recreation Areas including: Big Lake boat ramps and parking areas, Big Lake Visitor’s Center; Big Lake Administrative Site, Big Lake store and marina, South Cove boat ramp and parking area, Railroad Cove boat ramp and parking area. Big Lake Recreation area will open Friday, July 8 at noon.
- Access to Big Lake is via Highway 273 which will open at noon as well on Friday.
- Greer Lakes Day Use Area including the following: Greer Lakes picnic area, Greer Lakes boat ramps and parking areas, Bunch Reservoir, River Reservoir, Tunnel Reservoir. Lee Valley Reservoir Day Use Area including the following: boat ramp and parking area,and the lake itself.
- Rolfe C. Hoyer and Benny Creek Campgrounds and Squirrel Springs Picnic Area, Winn Campground, Springerville Ranger Station, Alpine Ranger Station are now opened.
- Luna Lake Day Use including the following: boat ramps and parking areas, Luna Lake Store and Marina, and the lake itself.
- Nelson Reservoir Day Use Area including the following: North end boat ramp, north end parking area, fishing piers, NFS Land underlying Nelson Reservoir, and the lake itself.
Forest Road Closures: Both Highway 261 (to Big Lake) and Highway 273 (between Big Lake and Reservation Lake on Fort Apache) remain closed.
Forest Service Law Enforcement officials are concerned that the public may be tempted to venture into closed areas to look at the effects of the Wallow Fire, but they ask the public to please be patient as crews clear hazardous trees near the roads. As the summer rainy season progresses, the threat from high water in certain drainages is very real. Please stay in areas open for public use.