Overview: Saguaro National Park is managing the Deer Head Fire for multiple objectives, including using fire to achieve natural resource benefits and to reduce hazardous fuels. The fire is burning in wilderness, where it is functioning in its natural role, helping reduce fuel loads and maintain wildlife habitat. Values to be protected include Mexican spotted owl habitat and the historic Manning Cabin, located approximately one mile from the fire.
Managing Wildfire in a Fire-Adapted Ecosystem: Lightning-ignited fires are important in maintaining healthy forests in the mountains of southern Arizona. Fire historically burned through the high elevation ponderosa pine forests of southeastern Arizona every few years, but past fire suppression has created unnatural conditions with a build-up of downed trees and dense underbrush in many places. Frequent, low to moderate intensity fires, in woodlands and forests, recycle nutrients back into the soil. Fires reduce pine needles, leaves, grass, downed logs, seedling trees, and shrubs on the forest floor to nutrient-rich ash, which fertilizes the soil. Many fire-adapted plants depend upon fire for germination and growth. Large trees usually survive. In places, fire can move into the forest canopy, killing trees, which are rapidly replaced by new plant growth that thrives on sunlight. A variety of fires on the landscape, over time, results in a shifting mosaic of vegetation that creates diverse habitat for wildlife.
|Current as of|
|Date of Origin||Thursday July 24th, 2014 approx. 11:15 AM|
|Location||The fire is located within the Saguaro Wilderness, in steep, rugged terrain. The bottom of the fire is at about 7,000 feet elevation and extends upward to 8,400 feet.|
|Percent of Perimeter Contained||100%|
Vegetation in the area includes ponderosa pine, oak and brush. The area has burned nine previous times since 1937.
The Deer Head Fire was contained at 1,097 acres on August 15.
Saguaro National Park has reopened trails and campgrounds in the Rincon Mountains after the Deer Head and Jackalope Fires. Hikers are cautioned to stay on trails, especially in the burned areas. “Though fire behavior was mild throughout the burned area, it is possible to encounter hazards while hiking,” according to John Thornburg, Fire Management Officer for Saguaro National Park. “Partially burned trees may be weakened and drop branches and stumps may have burned underground causing unstable soil which could collapse if stepped on.”
In addition, biologists caution that the fire has burned away vegetation which had been holding soil in place. This vegetation removal increases the risk of erosion. Travel off-trail in a burned area would further weaken the soil structure and increase the risk of water capture, flood, and erosion.