Rains Ease Fire Threat, Campgrounds Reopen
A Sunday night (July 15) storm dumped more than three inches of rain on Pine, Ariz., signaling the onset of what forecasters say should be a near-normal monsoon season.
The weekend storm dumped enough rain to dramatically reduce the fire danger, after months of bone-dry conditions. Until this storm hit, the year’s rainfall totals in Payson were about one third of normal, the Payson Roundup reported.
“So far we’ve dodged the bullet,” said Payson Ranger District Fire Management Officer Don Nunley, saying Rim Country has been perched on the edge of disaster for two months of “extreme” fire danger. “We were right there. We could have had a very catastrophic fire for sure.”
The Payson District of the Tonto National Forest will likely lift the fire-based forest closures today, reopening some of Rim Country’s most popular campgrounds and the swimming and fishing areas along the East Verde River and Tonto Creek.
Fire restrictions will remain in effect throughout the district, including a ban on campfires outside of developed campgrounds with fire rings.
The reopened campgrounds include Houston Mesa and Horse Camp.
However, the closures of three campgrounds because of recent bear attacks will remain in effect. That includes the Ponderosa Campground, Sharp Creek, Christopher Creek Campground the Lower Tonto Creek Campground, the Upper Tonto Creek Campground and Forest Service Roads 405, 405-A, 893, 1625, the Ponderosa Campground Road, State Highway by-pass and Trail 37 to the wilderness boundary. That closure will last into September, unless lifted sooner.