Telegraph Fire Funds Approved

It was nnounced today, “The Tonto National Forest received approval for $2.3 million of Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) funding to repair or replace infrastructure damaged and destroyed as a result of the Telegraph Fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona during the 2021 wildfire season.

Following post-fire assessments, the Tonto submitted a funding request utilizing the Minor Facilities and Infrastructure Rehabilitation Pilot program to the National Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) leadership for review and approval. Unlike the traditional BAER funding program which is specific to mitigating post-fire flooding on federal lands, this new pilot program authorizes repair of minor national forest land facilities and infrastructure damaged and/or destroyed by wildfires.

The Telegraph Fire burned or damaged a significant amount of national forest land range infrastructure across nine allotments. Range specialist identified approximately 66 miles of allotment boundary fencing damaged and over 61 miles of interior pasture fencing destroyed.

Tonto National Forest officials worked directly with permittees, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Natural Resource Conservation Districts, Farm Service Agency, Gila County Board of Supervisors and Gila County Cattle Growers Association to target BAER pilot money to fund the replacement and repair of boundary fencing destroyed or damaged by the fire.

“We received approval for 100 percent of the funding we requested. It’s one of the largest amounts awarded for range infrastructure replacement under the pilot program since its inception in 2020,” said Ecosystems Staff Officer and BAER Team Leader Mike Martinez. “Already, a procurement package is being prepared for the solicitation of bids to install the fencing which we plan to have finished by the end of 2022.”

The Telegraph Fire began on June 4, 2021, approximately 5 miles southeast of Superior, Arizona. When the fire was finally contained, it had burned more than 180,000 acres of national forest land, Bureau of Land Management and Arizona State Trust lands along with numerous homes and structures. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.”