Beginning on Monday, February 8th a contractor will begin using heavy equipment to thin trees on 135 acres of Prescott National Forest land on the Bradshaw Ranger District. The Schoolhouse Stewardship Project is located south of the City of Prescott on both sides of Highway 89-White Spar Road, along Jack Pine Road and Ponderosa Park Road. Thinning operations will initially start in the area north of the community of Ponderosa Park.
Thinning operations are dependent on weather and soil conditions, but visitors can expect equipment to be in the area for the next 1-2 months. A section of the project is located adjacent to the Prescott Circle Trail. As the contractor moves through the area, portions of the Circle Trail and other system trails will be periodically closed, and trail users will be re-routed to other system trails. In addition, the White Spar Trailhead, located by the White Spar Campground may be closed during a portion of this time.
As the operator moves through the project area, numerous signs will be posted to make trail users aware of thinning operations, the status of trail closures as well as alternate routes. Measures will be taken to protect the surface of trails and impacts will be remedied by the contractor and the Forest Service as needed. In addition, there will be increased truck traffic along Highway 89-White Spar Road and Ponderosa Park Road.
At present, operations will focus in the area around Ponderosa Park. Trail 382 which will be closed to maintain public safety. As work progresses up to Jack Pine Road a portion of Trail 9415, which makes up part of the Prescott Circle Trail, will be closed to maintain public safety.
Prescott National Forest personnel will also ensure that agency approved events will experience only minimal interruptions. Until mechanical operations are concluded, Forest Managers recommend that visitors take advantage of recreational opportunities on the north side of Copper Basin Road, Spence Basin, Granite Basin Recreation Area, or the Lynx Lake Recreation area.
The intent of the project is to improve the health and resiliency of fire-adapted ecosystems while reducing hazardous fuels that pose a threat to life and property in the Wildland-Urban Interface.