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Posted on: November 9, 2020

Annual Willard Springs green waste burn in progress

Large piles of green waste covered by light layer of snow.

Coconino County Public Works, in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), has ignited the annual green waste burn at the Willard Springs Transfer Station located 17 miles south of Flagstaff at Exit 326 on the west side of I-17.

This is USFS’s first burn since the COVID-19 pandemic began last winter.

The Willard Springs green waste burn is expected to produce smoke during its ignition period that will last for approximately three weeks. Based on wind and weather conditions, this smoke may be heavy at times and visible to motorists on I-17. The Coconino National Forest plans to post signage on I-17 as necessary to notify motorists about smoke from the burn and to drive with caution.

The burn is necessary to reduce the existing stockpile of pine needles, tree trimmings and other green waste at Willard Springs before the start of the 2021 fire season. Since the transfer station opened for free green waste-only disposal last April, a record 30,000 cubic yards of green and woody waste have been deposited by residents and collected through specialty events like the Bear Jaw Community Cleanup and the County’s annual Community Cleanup Days. This is almost triple the amount the station normally receives in a year. Willard Springs will remain open for the free deposit of green waste until 5 p.m. this Saturday, November 14. 

The green waste burn is expected to smolder until late winter depending on weather conditions. It will be monitored by the Mormon Lake Ranger Station, Pinewood Fire Department and the Coconino County Public Works Solid Waste Division. Public Works Solid Waste Division also will be regularly stirring the green waste piles throughout the process to promote a homogenous, even burn that will help to minimize smoke.

When smoke levels are high, the appropriate protective measures should be followed:

    Avoid breathing smoke if you can help it. Reduce or avoid outdoor activities.

    Make sure air conditioning/heating units have a clean filter in the air intakes. Devices with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters can reduce indoor pollution.

    Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner/heater in your home or car.

    Avoid activities which can increase indoor pollutants such as cooking and vacuuming.

People with pre-existing conditions should avoid exposure to the smoke as much as possible and consult their physician if they have any questions or experience health issues. More information regarding the health effect of smoke from prescribed burns and wildfires is available at https://az-coconinocounty2.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/995.  

For more information, please contact Ron Hollamon, Coconino County Public Works Solid Waste Manager, at (928) 679-8300.


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