Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Area in Sycamore Creek area closed due to flooding danger

New Sycamore Creek area closure due to possible flooding
result of Sunflower fire in May, Tonto National Forest

PHOENIX (July 30, 2012) – Tonto National Forest officials announced today an area closure due to monsoonal activity which poses the possibility of severe flooding danger in the Sycamore Creek area.  The order goes into effect today and remains in effect until Aug. 22 unless terminated sooner.  They are lifting an area fire closure that had been in place due to high potential for wildfire activity.

“In the next few weeks it is possible that several areas on the Tonto National Forest will suffer the extreme effects of summer flooding.  One of those areas is the Sunflower burn area,  approximately 17,500 acres, which is the upper watershed for Sycamore Creek,” stated Gary Hanna, Mesa District Ranger.  

The Sunflower fire began in May.

“This closure is to provide for the public’s health and safety in the event of extensive flooding.    In the burn area, there is little if any ground vegetation left to absorb and hold back rainwater. When heavy rain falls over burnt steep terrain, the water quickly rushes downhill carrying loose soils, ash, and debris.”

The restricted area boundaries are: 

From the junction of State Highway 87 and Forest Road (FR) 1847 west following FR 1847 to the forest boundary, north along the forest boundary to the Mesa Ranger District boundary, northeast along the Mesa Ranger District boundary to Mt. Peeley Trailhead/end of FR 201, then southeast along FR 201 to the junction of Hwy. 87, then south along Hwy. 87 to its junction with Sycamore creek (in Sunflower, AZ) then south along Sycamore Creek to its junction with Hwy. 87 (near FR 1704) then south along Hwy. 87 to the junction of FR 1847.

Forest Road 1847 and FR 201 are closed.  Hwy. 87 will remain open.

Residence owners, lessees of land, and holders of Forest Service special use authorizations within the restricted area may use Forest Systems Road as ingress and regress from their property.

Forest visitors are advised to check the forest webpage for annaouncements and closure orders or call ahead to the district before planning recreation events on the forest in order to avoid trespass into the closure area.

Forest officials continue to urge caution to visitors who encounter flooded roadways by reminding them of the the  Maricopa County Department of Transportation slogan, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!”

For further information about forest conditions, see the forest website www.fs.usda.gov/tonto, call 602-225-5200, or contact the Mesa Ranger District administrative offices at 481-610-3300.

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