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Forest thinning operations underway to prevent catastrophic wildfires

Forrest thinning
Posted at 4:00 PM, Jun 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-28 20:42:58-04

PAYSON, AZ  — Several agencies are working together in the high country to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires.

SRP, in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, and the Town of Payson are working on thinning out more than 1,000 acres of the Coconino National Forest which is north of Payson, called the "Baker Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project."

The project is also a financial benefit to everyone involved, says Elvy Barton with SRP.

"The cost of dealing with catastrophic wildfires is ten times more expensive than actually the preventive work," Barton says.

The project also looks to the protect watersheds and the C.C. Cragin Reservor which supplies water to Payson and parts of the Valley.

Tanner Henry with the Town of Payson says if a catastrophic wildfire came through and burned the watershed that supports the C.C. Cragin Reservoir, it could jeopardize the sustainable water supply in Payson.

The operation is the first part of the larger "Cragin Watershed Protection Project," eventually thinning out 64,000 acres which is nearly the same size as the city of Surprise.