Beginning this week, a contractor will begin using heavy equipment to thin trees on 41 acres of Prescott National Forest land on Mingus Mountain. The Butterfly Stewardship Project is located west of Highway 89A, along Forest Road 106 and near the Woodchute Wilderness trailhead. 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.
The project is located in the area adjacent to the Woodchute Wilderness trailhead. Contractors will be operating along the first 1,000 feet of Trail 102 which leads into Woodchute Wilderness. It is important to note that the thinning operations are only occurring outside of the designated wilderness and no operations will occur within the Woodchute Wilderness.
As the contractor moves through the area, portions of Forest Road 106 and Forest Road 106D as well as Trail 102 and Trail 536 will be closed to maintain public safety. In addition, the Woodchute Wilderness Trailhead, located off of Forest Road 106 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 89A.
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 east side of 89A, 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 the risk of bark beetle outbreaks which are heavily impacting the forest.