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Parts of northern Arizona forest to close this summer to prevent wildfires

PHOENIX — Campers, hikers and other recreationists will be barred from parts of national forest in Arizona this summer, forcing many to change their outdoor plans for Memorial Day weekend.

Six large swaths of the Coconino National Forest will temporarily close to the public on Wednesday as authorities work to prevent wildfires.

The forest closures will also shut down 10 Forest Service campgrounds — including Fossil Creek near Camp Verde — and a number of trails and roads.

Brady Smith, a spokesman with the Forest Service, told KTAR News 92.3 FM that everyone who paid for a reservation at Fossil Creek will be refunded and once the campground opens back up, they will have a chance to reschedule.

“There is no entry at all,” Smith said. “This is probably the … sixth-driest season on record. It’s very easy for a fire to start.”

Extra patrols and law enforcement will make sure no one goes into any closed area in the forest until further notice.

Other areas that will be closed will include the Kelly Canyon area in the Flagstaff Ranger District and the Mogollon Rim south of State Route 87.

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in eastern Arizona also announced closures in four areas: Promontory Butte in the Black Mesa Ranger District, an area south of State Route 260 in the Black Mesa and Lakeside ranger districts, an area called Pole Knoll in the Springerville Ranger District and an area southwest of Nutrioso and Alpine in the Alpine Ranger District.

The closures will be lifted when it rains enough to reduce the wildfire risk.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Kathy Cline and Jim Cross and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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