A prescribed burn is planned on Mica Mountain in the Rincon Mountains of Saguaro National Park east of Tucson when weather conditions are favorable.
The burn is planned for late April or early May, park officials said.
“Due to the location of the burn on the highest peak of the Rincon Mountains, smoke will be visible from Tucson, Redington Pass, Benson, Mescal and Happy Valley during the prescribed burn,” the officials noted. “Smoke may temporarily drift downhill overnight in the Redington Pass, Rincon Creek and San Pedro River Valley drainages.”
Smoke is expected to be present on backcountry trails within the vicinity of Mica Mountain for at least a week or until significant precipitation occurs.
Up to 541 acres may be burned in the prescribed fire. Ignitions may continue for two to three days.
Fire managers plan to conduct the prescribed burn only when environmental factors, such as wind, temperature and relative humidity, are favorable.
Vegetation in the area is predominately ponderosa pine and elevation ranges from about 7,950 to 8,670 feet.
Lightning-ignited fires have historically burned through high elevation ponderosa pine forests of Southeastern Arizona, but past fire suppression has created unnatural conditions with build-ups of downed trees and dense underbrush in many places.
Fire managers use low- to moderate-intensity prescribed fires in an effort to prevent intense wildfires.
Saguaro Park officials said some backcountry trails will be closed during prescribed burn operations.
The trails include Bonita, Spud Rock, Mica Mountain, Mica Meadow, Fire Loop/Heartbreak Ridge (between the junctions of Mica Mountain and Italian Spring), and the Arizona Trail/Fire Loop (between the junctions of Cowhead Saddle and Italian Spring and Cowhead Saddle to Manning Camp).
Plans call for fire managers to escort Arizona Trail hikers through the Arizona Trail/Fire Loop — between the junctions of Cowhead Saddle and Italian Spring and Cowhead Saddle to Manning Camp — when it is safe to do so.