At press time, there’s good news for anglers, campers and others who like to recreate in high country areas that had been closed due to the Wallow Fire and other area fire concerns. The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests has re-opened several popular areas of the forests to public use.
The Sitgreaves National Forest closure order affecting areas, roads and trails in the Black Mesa and Lakeside Ranger Districts and the Promontory Butte area was lifted as of noon July 7.
Stage 1 fire restrictions are currently in effect across the Sitgreaves portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. These restrictions prohibit fires, campfires, and use of charcoal, coal or wood stoves — except in fire grills and grates provided by the Forest Service in developed recreation sites. Use of gas-fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices is allowed. Smoking is not allowed except within an enclosed vehicle or building.
The Apache National Forest closure order for several major recreation areas was lifted at noon July 8, including Big Lake, Crescent Lake and the adjacent developed campgrounds; the Greer lakes and the nearby developed campgrounds — Lee Valley and Winn Campground, Nelson Reservoir, and Luna Lake.
The specific areas opened in the Alpine and Springerville Ranger Districts include the following:
• Big Lake and Crescent Lake Recreation Areas including Big Lake boat ramps and parking areas, Big Lake Visitor’s Center; Big Lake Administrative Site, Big Lake store and marina, South Cove boat ramp and parking area, Railroad Cove boat ramp and parking area. Current access to Big Lake is by Highway 273 only (Sunrise Highway) as Highway 261 is still closed and unsafe for motor vehicle use due to damaged guardrails.
• Greer Lakes Day Use Area including the following: Greer Lakes picnic area, Greer Lakes boat ramps and parking areas, Bunch Reservoir, River Reservoir, and Tunnel Reservoir.
• Lee Valley Reservoir Day Use Area including the following: boat ramp and parking area, and the lake itself.
• Rolfe C. Hoyer and Benny Creek Campgrounds and Squirrel Springs Picnic Area, Winn Campground, Springerville Ranger Station, Alpine Ranger Station.
• Luna Lake Day Use including the following: boat ramps and parking areas, Luna Lake Store and Marina, and the lake itself.
• Nelson Reservoir Day Use Area including the following: north end boat ramp, north end parking area, fishing piers, NFS land underlying Nelson Reservoir, and the lake itself.
Stage 2 fire restrictions will remain in place, which means that no campfires will be allowed, even in developed campgrounds.
Lee Valley Reservoir, Luna Lake, Crescent Lake, and the three Greer lakes are for day use only.
Reservations at the Big Lake and Greer campgrounds could be made starting on July 8 by calling 1-877-444-6777 or on the Web at www.recreation.gov.
Other Areas: Check First
The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Sipe Wildlife Area is also re-opened to the public. Access is via the primary road from the north crossing Forest Service lands. Note that the last section of roadway crossing Rudd Creek into the wildlife area may be closed temporarily without notice if a flooding event occurs due to summer rains. This condition is expected to persist through the remainder of the summer.
Please note that the remainder of the Apache National Forest is closed to public entry at this time due to the many safety hazards present in the aftermath of the Wallow Fire.
The Clifton Ranger District remains closed to public entry at this time until sufficient rain has fallen.
Please check the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests’ Web site at http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf/ to view the Wallow Fire Area Closure Order and Public Safety Amendment No. 3 with a list of all roads opened for access on the Apache Forest.
Forest Service Law Enforcement officials are concerned that the public may be tempted to venture into closed areas to look at the effects of the Wallow Fire, but they ask the public to please be patient as crews clear hazardous trees near the roads.
As the summer rainy season progresses, the threat from high water in certain drainages is very real. Please stay in areas open for public use.
Warning And Updates
Warning: The Forest Service reminds individuals who violate road closures that they could be cited resulting in fines of $5,000 for individuals, and $10,000 for organizations and/or imprisonment for not more than six (6) months.
You can check the 593 Public Information Line for further updates by calling (928) 333-3412, or on the website at http://593info.org, or the ASNF website at www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf/.
Recreation Is Mobile.®
DD ® reaches 40,000 readers weekly. Get Your Free Copy Subscribe Dinghy Digest
Copyright ©2009 Western Outdoor Times/Arizona Boating & Watersports. All Rights Reserved