Fire danger prompts forest closures across Arizona ahead of Memorial Day weekend

- It's one of the biggest kickoff weekends for camping season, but before you pack your sleeping bag and tent, the Tonto National Forest Department has a few things they want you to know.

First, not all areas are open.

"With closures in the Apache, Coconino and Tonto, the favorite areas may be closed to hiking and for driving for the foreseeable future," Carrie Templin said.

The closures are due to drought conditions, hot temperatures, and increased fire danger. Templin says all of the lakes in the Tonto area are open, but there are a few areas that will not be.

"The two areas that are closed are some areas around Payson and then the Four Peaks wilderness area, and the Three Bar wildlife are," she said. "Those areas are closed to all entry."

Templin adds it can be tricky to know which area is under which jurisdiction, and that's why her best advice is to plan ahead.

"It's hard to know what the restrictions are where, the best answer is find out where you're gonna go, find a phone number or website for that location and double check," she said.

Templin says the department wants everyone to enjoy our beautiful national forests here in Arizona, but safety is always the first priority.

"We're just asking the public to respect those areas where we have lots of homes in the middle of the woods, high fire danger," she said. "The last thing we want to do is lose a water shed or even worse."

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