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3 national forests in Arizona lifting virus and fire safety restrictions

(U.S. Forest Service/AP Photo)

PHOENIX – Officials in three Arizona national forests lifted or planned to lift restrictions on their lands starting as soon as Tuesday.

Fire restrictions ended at Coconino and Kaibab national forests Tuesday and recreation sites in Prescott National Forest are set to reopen Saturday, according to representatives for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agriculture agency which oversees the forests.

Target shooting and campfires will also be allowed again in the Prescott forest after the reopening.

All three had originally limited access to amenities in late March because of coronavirus concerns.

Coconino, near Flagstaff, closed day-use sites, group campgrounds and rental cabins. Kaibab, which borders the Grand Canyon’s north and south rims, also shut down day-use sites. Prescott closed its developed recreation sites, as well.

Wildfires also posed issues. A blaze that sparked in the Kaibab trees June 8 roared through 71,450 acres and forced precautionary evacuation, closed down nearby roads and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The Mangum Fire wasn’t formally noted as fully contained until Monday.

Restrictions at Coconino and Prescott were pulled primarily because the areas recently received a fair amount of rain, department press releases said.

Fire danger at Coconino lowered from “very high to high, and while all fire restrictions are currently lifted, forest visitors must always use caution with campfires and other potential ignition sources.”

Fire managers for the Prescott forest said abandoned campfires were still the leading cause of wildfires

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