Thursday, 19 July 2018
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Williams, Ariz., July 16, 2018— The Kaibab National Forest has implemented a temporary closure of Forest Road 149 near Kendrick Mountain on the Williams Ranger District due to safety concerns related to the active monsoon season.

Forest Road 149, which is located in the far northeastern corner of the Williams Ranger District just east of Pumpkin Center, accesses the Pumpkin Trailhead on Kendrick Mountain. Due to the risk of flooding and the associated public safety concerns, the road has been temporarily closed and will remain so until monsoon conditions subside.

Barricades are installed at the entry to the road. No driving or parking along Forest Road 149 will be allowed until the closure is lifted. While the Pumpkin Trail itself is not closed, forest managers recommend use of either the Kendrick Mountain or Bull Basin trails while the closure of Forest Road 149 is in effect due to the lack of trailhead parking. Visitors to Pumpkin Trail could also find alternative parking along open forest roads and hike into the trail, although this could add significantly to overall hiking distance. 

Due to a severe lack of winter moisture, there was very little growth of grasses and plants in the area of the 2017 Boundary Fire on Kendrick Mountain, making for potentially unstable conditions during heavy monsoonal rains. Because of that, there is an increased risk of flooding in the area, with Forest Road 149 being particularly vulnerable.

Besides temporarily closing Forest Road 149, Kaibab National Forest managers also advise visitors to the Kendrick Mountain area to have heightened awareness about potential safety hazards and exercise increased vigilance regarding personal safety, especially during rain events. 

“After any fire, there is a need to recognize that the landscape is still stabilizing itself, especially in the immediate post-fire period and during monsoon conditions such as those we are experiencing now,” said Micah Kiesow, soil scientist for the Kaibab National Forest. “While the Kendrick Mountain area and its trails are open to public use except for Forest Road 149, it is still important to understand that hazards can exist. We ask visitors to be aware of their surroundings when recreating in the forest, especially in areas that have been impacted by wildfire in recent years.”

Potential risks in any area recently burned by wildfire include the following:

  • storms resulting in flash flooding that could wash out roads, initiate debris flows, and entrap people at flooded stream courses;
  • unsound burned trees (snags) that could fall or shed large limbs;
  • eroded and very rough roads resulting in dangerous driving conditions;
  • unstable terrain with potential for rolling debris (logs, rocks, boulders, etc.);
  • burned out stump holes that could cause injury if stepped in;
  • and, blowing dust on roads and hillsides.

Visitors to the Kendrick Mountain area are advised to follow these outdoor safety best practices:

  1. Know the weather forecast and check it frequently as conditions can change in a very short timeframe.
  2. Let someone outside of the area know exactly where you are and where you will be going daily.
  3. Do not park vehicles or camp in areas with burned snags or where potential flood waters would prevent escape. Know where you are in relation to drainages.
  4. During windy conditions, remain in open areas that are free of trees (both live and burned) as much as possible.
  5. If an area seems unsafe for any reason, leave.
  6. Have good maps and know where you are at all times.
  7. Keep a well-charged cell phone with you and check it frequently so you know when you’re in an area where there is no coverage.
  8. Understand that there are many areas on public lands that are remote. It can take a very long time before responders can arrive if a rescue is required. The Kendrick Mountain area is very remote.

For more information about the Kaibab National Forest, reference the following sources:

John Stewart Managing Editor - 4x4Voice - 4x4Wire - Natural Resources Consultant - California Four Wheel Drive Association - Board of Directors - BlueRibbon Coalition

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