Smoke from Galiuro Mountain Range prescribed burn visible from Safford

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: A menacing cloud of smoke could be seen to the west of Safford on Tuesday afternoon as the result of a prescribed burn in the Galiuro Mountain Range.

By Brooke Curley

SAFFORD – Locals are always wary of smoke rising in the distance, but this time there is no need to worry since it is simply a prescribed burn that cast the visible smoke Tuesday.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the burn in the Galiuro Mountain Range has been in progress for a number of weeks. A shift in the wind Tuesday caused the smoke from the fire to be visible from the Safford area. According to the news release, the fire is part of the Coronado’s Galiuro FireScape Project. The prescribed burn is scheduled for multiple wilderness ranges.

The 135,000-acre Galiuro FireScape covers remote country with little Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) and concentrates on very large-scale burns. The challenge on this landscape is related to prescribed burning in designated wilderness areas using helicopter ignition.
The release stated that “the project boundaries lie between High Creek on the south and Deer Creek on the north and contains the Paddy’s River drainage, Black Canyon, Wood Canyon and High Creek including both wilderness and non-wilderness land in rugged terrain. Approximately 15,000 acres are planned for the burn, which will be implemented in stages. Burning may continue through July, 2017, with ignitions occurring as fuel and weather conditions become suitable.”


Benefits of a Prescribed Burn

Reduces hazardous fuels, protecting human communities from extreme fires

Minimizes the spread of pest insects and disease

Removes unwanted species which threaten species native to an ecosystem

Provides forage for game

Improves habitat for threatened and endangered species

Recycles nutrients back to the soil

Promotes the growth of trees, wildflowers and other plants