Tag Archives: white mountains

wildfire

How Arizona wildfires impact water supply, economy

Arizona is home to the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in North America, with a single stand stretching from near Flagstaff all the way to the White Mountains of the east.

And in the last 10 years, 25 percent of it burned, said Patrick Graham, Arizona state director for the Nature Conservancy.

Fire suppression and subsequent cleanup costs have risen far beyond estimated prevention costs, according to studies by the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service and the Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI) at Northern Arizona University (NAU), among others.

The tourism industry in Arizona, an estimated 20 percent of the state’s economy, is largely dependent on the health of forested lands and other wildlife preserves, a 2007 report by the Governor’s Health Oversight Council stated.

But “wildfires affect the entire state — not just the north,” said Eric Marcus, executive director at the Northern Arizona Sustainable Economic Development Initiative.

A full-cost economic analysis of the 2010 Schultz fire outside of Flagstaff by the ERI revealed the deeper effect of forest fires. More than 15,000 acres of forest were burned, causing an estimated $147 million in economic damage, the report found. An investment of only $15 million could have prevented this catastrophe, said Marcus.

Fire and water

But most of the damage from these wildfires occurs after the fire has been extinguished.

When major wildfires remove the trees and grasses necessary for holding soil in place, a once standard rainstorm can now cause dangerous floods and massive erosion, filling up the reservoirs and ultimately decreasing the carrying capacity of our water supply, said Bruce Hallin, director of water rights and contracts with the Salt River Project.

“These catastrophic wildfires go in and the fire burns so hot that it burns everything,” said Hallin. “It turns it into this wasteland.”

But nothing can hold back sediment from flowing directly into the water supply if a fire were to ignite downstream from the reservoirs, such as the Sunflower fire in 2012. If ash-laden water were to be delivered to processing plants, treatment costs would increase dramatically, thus increasing the price of the water, said Marcus.

The 2002 Hayman fire in Colorado deposited more than 1 million cubic yards of sediment into Denver’s primary drinking water supply. To this day, cleanup is still underway to restore Strontia Springs Reservoir, with costs exceeding $150 million.

“Ultimately, through forest thinning, we don’t want to get to that point,” said Hallin.
One century ago, Arizona’s northern forests were more akin to open grasslands interspersed with towering ponderosas. Ignited by lightning, the grass beneath the trees would carry a smoldering fire along the ground, burning the young trees while only charring the thick bark of the older, more established ponderosas.

Need for thinning

But Arizona’s northern forests have “all departed from the way they were historically,” said Diane Vosick, director of policy and partnerships at ERI.

When grazing came through in the late 1800s and removed all of the grass, fires could no longer move through the forest naturally. Bare soil — which resulted from result over-grazing — allowed the pines to germinate seeds more easily. However, when fires did ignite, the U.S. Forest Service fire policy at the time required any and all fires to be extinguished. This fire policy went unchanged until 1995, allowing millions of young ponderosas and other vegetation to crowd the once-thin forest.

A study conducted by ERI Director Wally Covington found that historically, Arizona’s ponderosa forests contained roughly 25 trees per acre. But now, one acre of forest can contain more than a thousand trees.

“You’ve basically got a big wood pile out there waiting to burn,” said Vosick.

SRP, the water supplier for more than half of Phoenix and nearly all of Tempe, manages eight reservoirs deep within Arizona’s northern region.

“That’s the goal,” said Vosick. “You want fire to do its natural role and to help manage the forests.”

The Four Forest Restoration Initiative, or 4FRI, is a collaborative effort comprised of residents, industry, and the government to restore the Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto national forests through thinning and prescribed burning.

Vosick said that 4FRI hopes to have thinned at least 1 million acres of forested land within 20 years.

However, almost no thinning has taken place in nearly five years since the initiative began.

Seeking a solution

“Forest lands have been managed for the last 20 years through litigation and attorneys, not projects,” said Hallin. Because of these legal barriers, Northern Arizona’s timber industry has all but vanished. So even the lands that have been approved for thinning cannot receive the treatment prescribed because there is no longer any industry to do the work, he said.

“You can make money with big old trees, but we don’t want those trees taken out of the forest,” said Marcus. Private enterprise doesn’t want to invest because no money can be made from the small diameter trees, he said.

The only way to thin the forests in a timely manner is through convincing industry that their investment will not be inhibited by litigation because the federal government can’t do it by itself, Hallin said. “The fact of the matter is, without a successful forest products industry, that entire forest is going to burn.”

SRP, in conjunction with the National Forest Foundation, has created the Northern Arizona Forest Fund, enabling individuals and businesses to invest in restoring the lands that provide them water.

“We don’t need to do more research to know what our problem is; we need to generate public interest in fixing things,” said Marcus.

“You can pay me now, or you can pay me later. But if you pay me now, you pay me a fraction of what you’re going to pay me later and have nowhere near the devastating effects that you’re going to have down the road.”

special

Arizona Special Needs Camp At Risk

Lions Camp Tatiyee, the only organization in Arizona that provides individuals with special needs a week-long summer camp in the White Mountains all free-of-charge, is in jeopardy of having to cancel sessions for the first time since 1958 due to lack of funding. As it stands, Lions Camp Tatiyee is $125,000 short of meeting its operational budget for the 2014 camp season.

In the past 56 seasons, contributions from the Arizona Lions Club have allowed the camp to remain in operation. In addition to individual donations, the Lions Club has generated the bulk of funding through recycling efforts. However, the 2013 closing of Catalyst Paper Mill in Snowflake, Arizona, which was a major source of recycling revenue for the Arizona Lions, has significantly impacted the camp’s ability to generate funding.

Said Pam Swanson, Executive Direct of Lions Camp Titayee, “This is new territory for us, and we have had to reinvent our fundraising strategy in an incredibly short amount of time. Unfortunately, we are still short of our operational budgeting goal. If we are not able to make up the shortage by the end of June, hundreds of special needs campers may not be able to attend camp this summer.”

Added Swanson, “For most of our campers, the annual week-long summer camp experience is the highlight of their year.”

Lions Camp Tatiyee annually schedules eight week-long sessions, hosting special needs campers ranging from 7 years old to adults. The camp is open to individuals with Downs syndrome, cerebral palsy, spinal injuries, mental disabilities and sight and hearing impairment, to name just a few. Lions Camp Tatiyee has never charged campers or their families for their camp experience.

Campers at Lions Camp Tatiyee come from all cities in Arizona. The camp has the capacity to host more than 650 campers each season at its state-of-the-art facility, which sits on 88 acres in the White Mountains. However, lack of funding has limited Lions Camp Tatiyee’s ability to accept campers, and there are currently more than 150 special needs individuals on the waiting list.

Lions Camp Tatiyee is making a plea for support in this time of need. Without financial backing, the camp will be forced to cancel sessions. Those interested in helping to support Lions Camp Tatiyee may do so online by visiting www.ArizonaLionsCamp.org and clicking one the “Donate Now” button.

Building snowmen at Hidden Meadow Ranch.

Hidden Meadow Ranch Offers Mountain Oasis For A New Year Celebration

When it comes to ringing in the New Year, what’s the first image that comes to mind? Times Square? We see it on television every year: the thousands of people wearing the goofy glasses as they dance to the songs of their favorite performers and watch the magical crystal ball drop during the exciting 10-second countdown. Of course, who could forget all of that multi-colored confetti as it rains down on the crowd as the clock strikes 12? Despite the excitement of Times Square, sometimes there is nothing better than to get away from the crowd and noise to celebrate the start of a new year. And here in Arizona, Hidden Meadow Ranch may be just the place.Snowy Cabin at Hidden Meadow Ranch

At Hidden Meadow Ranch, one can find tranquility and bliss among confetti of snow as they celebrate with friends and loved ones. Located in Arizona’s White Mountains, guests wanting to escape the city can experience the wilderness in luxury as they make their stay in elegant log cabins amid aspen groves, whispering Ponderosa pines and twinkling lakes and streams.Eagle's Nest at Hidden Meadow Ranch

“What better way to wrap up the past year and welcome in the new than to take a peaceful stroll through a meadow at dawn and catch a glimpse of visiting elk, deer or bald eagles?” asks Jane Lenci, general manager of Hidden Meadow Ranch. “Make your first New Year’s resolution to ring in 2013 in a most relaxing, restorative frame of mind.”

As part of the New Year’s Eve festivities at the Hidden Meadow Ranch, guests can expect a special menu from Chef Kurt Jacobsen, the Ranch Roundup evening children’s program from 6-10 p.m., music from the Desert Thunder Band from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., and a special champagne toast at midnight with party favors.

Get away from the city this holiday season and make a trip to the Hidden Meadow Ranch as you let go of the old and celebrate exciting possibilities with the new.

For more information or to make a reservation, please call (928) 333-1000 or visit hiddenmeadow.com.

Hidden Meadow Ranch

620 County Road 1325,
Greer, AZ 85927
Toll free: (866) 333-4080
Local: (928) 333-1000
hiddenmeadow.com

Memorial Day concert in Greer

Kierland Developers Host Memorial Day Weekend Concert In Greer

Escape the 100-degree weather this Memorial Day weekend and head to the White Mountains for Hidden Meadow Ranch’s Boots, BBQ and Beer concert on Sunday, May 27th.

Providing first-rate accommodations and service is second nature at Hidden Meadow Ranch. The owners, Tim and Casey Bolinger of Greenbrier Southwest Corporation, were integrally involved in the development of Kierland in northeast Phoenix and The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain community near Tucson. Combining their resort and development expertise with their interests in horseback riding, snow skiing and fly fishing, the Bolingers and their team, led by General Manager Jane Lenci, have created a luxury lodging experience at Hidden Meadow Ranch that complements the naturally beautiful, secluded setting, while providing a range of recreational activities and high level of service and comfort in all four seasons.

Starting at 5 p.m., a limited number of concert goers can enjoy burgers, baby back ribs, chicken and hot dogs, along with unlimited non-alcoholic drinks for just $50, including the live music performance. Beer and cocktails are extra. Memorial Weekend Lodge guests at Hidden Meadow Ranch get all of this included in their stay. After the barbeque, Arrowheart, an all-female country group from Arizona, will take to the stage.

“Nothing beats barbeque and great live music on Memorial Day weekend,” said Jane Lenci, General Manager of Hidden Meadow Ranch. “The ladies of Arrowheart bring a country flare that we love up here at Hidden Meadow Ranch. Now if we could just get them to write a song about the Ranch!”

The popularity of Arrowheart is rising rapidly in the Southwest. The three lead singers, Alexis Driscoll, Erin Beaty & Julia Frys are known for their vocal harmonies and great live performances. They are currently putting the finishing touches on their debut album.

Guests who want to make a weekend out of it can book a stay at Hidden Meadow Ranch for Memorial Day weekend. For guests who stay in our 900-square-foot luxurious log cabins, the concert and BBQ will be included at no extra cost.

For more information on Hidden Meadow Ranch or to make reservations, please visit www.hiddenmeadow.com or call (928) 333-1000.