Fort Tuthill Thinning Project
Coconino County Parks & Recreation is conducting a forest thinning project in Fort Tuthill County Park to increase forest health, to improve public safety and to reduce wildfire risk. Removal will be by hand and mechanical thinning.
The Fort Tuthill Thinning Project is a collaborative effort between Coconino County, Arizona Department of Forestry & Fire Management, Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership, U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, Arizona Game & Fish Department, Northern Arizona University Ecological Restoration Institute, and the City of Flagstaff.
October 24, 2019:
Flagstaff Fire Department fire managers are planning several prescribed burns to reintroduce fire into the Ponderosa pine forest and reduce hazardous fuel accumulation around the City of Flagstaff area. The prescribed burns are planned over the next two to three weeks, are dependent upon weather conditions, and may be cancelled if conditions prove unsuitable. The fall burning schedule includes Fort Tuthill County Park and Rogers Lake County Natural Area. Read the full news release for more information.
View a map of the area at Fort Tuthill that will have the prescribed burn; the location is the southwest portion of the park. Operations may begin as early as Monday, October 28, but the prescribed burns are planned over the next two to three weeks, are dependent upon weather conditions, and may be cancelled if conditions prove unsuitable. A portion of the Soldiers Trail and Bridge Trail will be closed due to the prescribed burn; signs will be posted on the ground with the closure notice and we will post information online. The Archery Range will also be closed during the prescribed burn at Fort Tuthill. Once they open back up, CCPR will let the public know.
Protect yourself from the health effects of smoke - visit https://coconino.az.gov/DocumentCenter/View/57544/Health-Effects-of-Smoke-from-Wildfire-and-Prescribed-Burns-Flyer
September 25, 2019:
Join us on Saturday, September 28 for A Walk in the Woods: Exploring the Ponderosa Pine Forest. This event is part of the 2019 Flagstaff Festival of Science. Did you know that in some ponderosa pine forests, ponderosa pine trees make up less than 1% of the total plant species diversity? To learn more about the plants in the forest that contribute to biodiversity, join the Ecological Restoration Institute for a walk in the woods at Fort Tuthill County Park. We will be walking through a restored area that is still recovering from a thinning treatment in 2017, but already showing signs of grass and forb responses. In addition to learning about important plants in our forests, we will talk about the need to prevent severe wildfires and restore ecological processes in Northern Arizona. Meet at the forest resiliency interpretive sign north of the Fort Tuthill Bike Park, next to the NAU Ecological Restoration Institute's demonstration area. More event info at https://www.facebook.com/events/502846200262927/
January 8 & 24, 2019:
Flagstaff Fire Department conducted pile burns in the recently thinned areas at Fort Tuthill County Park. There were partial trail closures on the Bridge Trail due to pile burns being so close to the trail.
Protect yourself from the health effects of smoke - visit https://az-coconinocounty2.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/995/Wildfire-and-Prescribed-Burn-Smoke
September 14, 2018:
As part of the 2018 Flagstaff Festival of Science, we are hosting a tour of the Fort Tuthill Thinning Project. Explore the Fort Tuthill Thinning Project, a 330-acre effort to increase forest health, improve public safety and reduce wildfire risk. Learn about the impacts of fire on forest ecosystems and what fire scars tell us. Meet at the forest resiliency interpretive sign north of the Fort Tuthill Bike Park, next to the NAU Ecological Restoration Institute's demonstration area.
February 1, 2018:
Hand and mechanical thinning at the Fort Tuthill Forest Thinning Project finished in Fall 2017. To increase plant diversity on the denuded landscape, like the logging roads, that were rehabilitated after the thinning project finished, CCPR staff seeded the area in January with native grasses, wildflowers, and forbs. These areas will likely be the first spots to show weeds, such as mullein, for the first 3-4 years, so seeding native grasses will help them become established after the course of weeds move through. After seeding, staff put down woody debris to hold moisture on the seed bank, perfect timing with the latest snow storm. Below are before and after pictures of the area. See more photos: Points 10, 11, and 12.
Seed varieties include:
- Arizona fescue grass
- Blue grama grass
- Pine dropseed grass
- Shrub seeds
CCPR staff also created animal burrowing habitats in select areas at Fort Tuthill County Park using stumps from the thinning project. While brush piles are established methods for habitat creation for smaller mammals like rabbits, these stump habitats are a modified design to accommodate larger mammals like fox and raccoons. CCPR staff created a hole against a hillside, placed stumps from the logging area in the hole, covered the area with woody material and dirt, and then seeded the top. As viewed from the Fort Tuthill trail system, park visitors will see a rounded hill with grasses and shrubs around it. By creating stump habitats, CCPR is creating a habitat nexus for multiple animal species in the park.
October 20, 2017:
Mechanical thinning for the Fort Tuthill Thinning Project finished up this week, and there is about a week’s work of hand thinning left on the project.
October 13, 2017:
The Board of Supervisors toured the Fort Tuthill Thinning Project during their work session on Tuesday, October 10, while the Parks & Recreation Commission toured the area the week before during their monthly meeting.
Both groups saw first-hand the scale of the project, especially the slash piles that are in the process of being moved and chipped. The primary goal of the project is to reduce the risk of a catastrophic wildfire. And while the contractor is almost done using heavy machinery, the project is far from over.
For the next several months and years, park staff will be implementing procedures that include: removing and rehabbing temporary roads, rehabbing trails, reseeding the area with native grass seed mix that includes wildflowers and forbs, and eventually maintaining the site with regular, controlled, low-intensity fires on a 7-10-year rotation.
Image links to larger file (PDF).
September 22, 2017:
Mechanical thinning for the Fort Tuthill Thinning Project wrapped up this week, and the contractor is working to finish hauling and chipping of slash piles. What does that mean? The trails at Fort Tuthill County Park are open. So come on out and get on the Soldiers and Bridge Trails! As always, if the trails are wet and muddy, please practice good trail etiquette.
September 15, 2017: Out of the approximately 220 acres that was contracted for the Fort Tuthill Forest Thinning Project, approximately 50 acres remain for mechanical thinning. Huge slash piles are left behind from the mechanical thinning process, and Perkins Harvesting is chipping the slash piles, with materials from the chipping being re-purposed into decorative wood chips for gardens and landscaping. A portion of the Soldiers Trail remains closed to users, however the Bridge Trail is open; see the map below.
August 14, 2017: The Fort Tuthill Forest Thinning Project is moving along well, with some delays taking place due to the monsoon weather. The contractor, Perkins Timber Harvesting, moved from the southwest portion of the park to the northwest portion. So far, approximately 110 acres have been mechanically thinned and processed, including the NAU Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI) Demonstration Area. CCPR has been alerting the public to partial trail closures via social media and signage at trail junctures. The project is slated to be completed by December.
Recently felled trees in the NAU ERI Demonstration Area, as part of Fort Tuthill Thinning Project.
Hand thinning at the Fort Tuthill Archery Range began this week, and the range will be closed Monday and Tuesday, August 21 and 22 from 6:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. We apologize for any inconvenience and remind archery range members that they can use the range after 3:30 p.m. on these days.
August 8, 2017: Beginning August 8, the thinning project at Fort Tuthill County Park moves to another section of the park. Below are two maps that show immediate trail closures, that will remain closed for approximately two weeks. Visit our Facebook page for more updates.
July 24, 2017: Work on the Fort Tuthill Thinning Project begins Monday, July 24. As part of the thinning near the archery range on Monday, sections of Soldiers Trail and the entire Bridge Trail will be closed for approximately one week. Staff will place trail closure signs at specific points on the trails so users are aware and can plan their outing accordingly. Please check out the map below that shows locations of the immediate trail closures.
(Image links to larger file - PDF)
Map and Project Information
Read the press release (PDF)
Prescriptions for Thinning Project (PDF 9 MB)
Information Sheet - October 2017 (PDF 8 MB)
(Image links to larger file)
Want to learn more?
Northern Arizona University's Ecological Restoration Institute provides background information and fact sheets on forest restoration and more. Check out the following:
- Restoring Ponderosa Pine Forests of the Intermountain West: An Overview and Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
- Forest Restoration Treatments and Fire Behavior (PDF)
- Restoring the Ecological and Social Integrity of Western Forests (PDF)
- Understanding Fire and Fire Behavior (PDF)
Browse additional fact sheets on ERI's new e-library.