Saturday, July 14, 2012

Houston Mesa and Horse Camp campgrounds re-open today

Houston Mesa and Horse Camp campgrounds will re-open on Sat.
Tonto Creek Road area is open daily, 6 am – 6pm
 Tonto National Forest, Payson, Ariz. 
Payson, Ariz. (July 12, 2012) – Tonto National Forest officials announced today a modification to a fire area closure order which will allow two campgrounds to re-open on Saturday:   Houston Mesa and Horse Camp campgrounds. The fire restriction area closure order went into effect on June 21.  The two campgrounds will re-open Saturday, July 14.  All other parts of the fire area closure order remain in effect until further evaluation.

Officials also announced a modification and extension of a temporary area closure which went into effect June 24 due to the preponderance of bear sightings this year, along with three attacks on humans in the past two months.  The area closure order, with modifications, has been extended from Saturday, July 14 until Sept. 4, unless terminated sooner.

The following area is now open every day 6 am to 6 pm:

The area within ½ mile east and west of Tonto Creek Road From Highway 260 to the Horton Bridge, within ½ mile west of Tonto Creek Road from the Horton Bridge to the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery, within ½ mile east of Horton Trail (Trail 285) and within ½ mile north and south of the Highline Trail (Trail 31) from Horton Spring to the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery. 

The following areas remain CLOSED AT ALL TIMES under the temporary closure order:

All lands encompassed by the Ponderosa Campground, Sharp Creek Campground, Christopher Creek Campground, Lower Tonto Creek walk-in Campground, and Upper Tonto Creek Campground and the Forest Roads 405, 405A, 893, 1625, Ponderosa Campground Road, State Highway by-pass, and Trail 37 to the wilderness boundary.
For more information about wildlife on the Tonto National Forest, please contact the Arizona Game and Fish Mesa Office at 480-981-9400.

For further information about the area closure, see the forest website, or call the Payson Ranger District administrative offices at: 928-474-7900.
Media:  For further information about the bear attacks and bear tracking efforts, please contact Arizona Game and Fish spokesperson Jim Paxon at  623-236-7226, or Tom Cadden at  623-236-7392
Be Bear Aware tips for campers and others
What Should I Do If I See a Bear?
Black bears should always be considered unpredictable and potentially dangerous – at all times.
A black bear will usually detect you and leave the area before you notice, unless the bear has been conditioned to people and their food. If you live in black bear country, take responsibility for not attracting them.
It is essential to keep a clean camp. Store all food items away from your sleeping area. Wash up before going to bed to remove food odors. Do not keep toiletries in your sleeping area, they might also attract bears. Avoid sleeping in the same area where you prepare or eat food. Never intentionally feed wildlife.
If you prepare desserts, such as S’mores, be sure those eating this delicious concoction wash up afterwards because marshmallows and chocolate are superb bear attractants.
To discourage a black bear, immediately:
-          Alter your route to avoid a bear in the distance. 
-          Make yourself as large and imposing as possible, such as spreading out your jacket like a set of wings.
-          If the bear continues to approach, stand upright and wave your arms, jacket or other items.
-          Make loud noises, such as yelling, whistles, and banging pots and pans.
-          Do not run, that could prompt the bear to chase and catch you.
-          Never play dead. 
-          Give the bear a chance to leave the area. 
-          If the bear does not leave, stay calm, continue facing it, and slowly back away. 
-          If a black bear attacks, fight back with everything in your power – fists, sticks, rocks and E.P.A. registered bear pepper spray. While household black and cayenne pepper is not as potent as bear pepper spray, they can still provide a slight deterrent factor.
Remember, removal is usually a last resort: Bears can be common at high elevations where food is plentiful. Different bears will visit the same area if attractants are not removed. Bears that must be removed are relocated or may have to be destroyed if they are considered too dangerous, have lost their fear of humans, or continue to get into conflicts with people.
Arizona Game and Fish website (

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