20 Tonto campgrounds closed by flood fears The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

20 Tonto campgrounds closed by flood fears

20 Tonto campgrounds closed by flood fears
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TRIBUNE NEWS STAFF

Campers and others who like to head out to the Tonto National Forest will have to hunt around for places to go after officials closed huge portions of the area until at least Sept. 10 – and possible longer.

The closure order was issued last week because of potential flood hazards related to the Bush Fire, forest officials said.

Closed are the following campgrounds: Christopher Creek, Houston Mesa, Ponderosa, Sharp Creek, Reynolds Creek, Valentine Ridge, Frazier, Grapevine (except for except Forest Route 84 to the boat ramp) Cave Creek, CCC, Bartlett Flats, Horseshoe, Mesquite, Riverside, South Cove, Larry Forbis, Tortilla,    

Kellner, Timber Camp and Timber Camp Equestrian.

The Bush Fire was declared contained on July 4 after it burned approximately 192,412 acres of the Tonto.

“Post-fire flooding and debris flow risks will persist through the Arizona monsoon season, tropical storm season and winter rains,” Tonto Park rangers said in a release.

They said that during an assessment of post-fire threats to human life and safety, property and “critical natural or cultural resources,” a team determined “that hydrologic response from the burn scar will be significant.”

The team’s modeling determined that the likelihood of basins producing water flows resembling a 100-year or greater flood “would have historically been a 10-year storm event.”

That means that a major flood is 10 times more likely than normal.

The team determined watersheds on the interior of the burn area “will have a greater than 50 percent likelihood of producing debris flows from a modest rainfall event.”

Rangers will be installing gates on key roads to prevent public access into high-risk areas and put up signs across the burn scar to warn the public of risks and treatments to protect Forest Route 626.

Rangers conceded “significant impacts to the public as a result of this closure,” but called it “a matter of human life and safety.”

“It is important that the public remain out of restricted areas on the forest,” their release said.

Only people with written Forest Service permission and law enforcement will be permitted in the affect area, rangers said.

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