By Linda Kor
It’s another dry season for Navajo and Apache counties, and that means increased fire danger. During Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting Navajo County Emergency Manager Mary Springer informed the board that the county is now under a Stage II fire restriction, a stage employed when conditions are so extreme that the potential of a catastrophic disaster is highly likely.
According to Springer, there have already been 588 human caused fires in the state since the beginning of this year. In comparison, there have been 23 fires as a result of lightening strikes. There were also 70 illegal campfires in the White Mountains and the surrounding area reported just over Memorial weekend.
“A piece of note paper has about 12 percent moisture content. In comparison, the live and dead fuels on the forest floor have seven to nine percent moisture content. That’s how deadly it is out there right now,” stated Springer. She added that conditions are so dry that in the past 22 years there has only been one time when it was three percent dryer than it currently is.
A Stage II restriction means that no fires of any sort, including campfires or camp stove fires, will be permitted. There will also be no smoking allowed except inside an enclosed vehicle or building. “I was waiting in my car during road construction and was surprised at the number of people who got out of their vehicles, stood in the grass on the side of the road to smoke a cigarette,” said Springer. In addition, no fireworks will be permitted or the operation of motorized vehicle off designated roads or trails. The discharge of firearms for target practice or other form of recreation is also prohibited. Including those with lawful hunt permits.
The restriction also applies to the operation of any internal combustion engines, welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame or the use of explosives.
These restrictions apply to all unincorporated areas of Navajo County. Each county, city and town will have its own ordinances and make the determination locally whether to use the same level of restriction as the county. Those who disobey an order to put out a fire will be subject to penalties under the law.
In other action June 11, the board:
* Approved the appointment of Terry Green to the Navajo County Republican Committee.
* Approved a special event liquor license for the Pinetop/Lakeside Chamber of Commerce for the High Mountain Music Festival.
* Approved an amendment to an intergovernmental agreement between the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office and TLO Systems for access to data searches and reports at a cost of $110 per month for up to 500 searches.
* Approved an amendment to a contract between the NCSO and the Petrified Forest National Park to extend dispatching services for an additional year at a cost of $8,000 annually.
* Authorized a letter to the Bureau of Justice Assistance in support of the proposed Navajo County Fatality Review and Safety Assessment Initiative grant proposal.
* Authorized an invitation to attend the grand opening of the new McNary Community Library to Secretary of State Ken Bennett.
* Authorized a letter to the Coconino National Forest supervisor regarding Four-Forest Restoration Initiative Environmental Impact Statement.
* Authorized a letter of recommendation for Supervisor Jonathan Nez regarding an appointment as a candidate as an at-large director to the NACo (National Association of Counties) board of directors or a vice-chair for the Community and Economic Development Steering Committee.
* Approved naming an existing road in the Snowflake/Taylor area Arizona Trail.
* Approved a tax settlement agreement with Mountain Oaks Apartments in Show Low, which reduces the 2013 full cash value for the parcel from $1,380,050 to $870,000.
* Authorized the acceptance of two grants awarded to the Library District by the Arizona State
Library, Archives and Public Records in the amount of $13,375 and $15,828.
* Approved a request for District II Special Roads Funds by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Hopi Agency in an amount not to exceed $8,100 for the purchase of 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel and motor grader repair parts.
* Approved an amendment to an agreement to the Victory Heights road maintenance contract with Perkins Cinders extending the contract for an additional year.
* Approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Town of Taylor for flood mitigation.
* Approved expenditure in an amount not to exceed $40,000 from the District V Special Road Funds to construct a multi-use path using millings on Porter Mountain Road to be used by Blue Ridge Junior High students.
* Approved a special use permit for Cellular One in order to place a cellular communications tower not to exceed 180’ in Joseph City and another not to exceed 75’ in Lakeside.
By Linda Kor