Flagstaff breaks ground on Schultz Creek flood mitigation efforts

Flagstaff officials broke ground on a new project to make sure that 2022's flooding doesn't repeat itself.

Sept. 18 marked the start of the nearly million-dollar project to prevent Schultz Creek from eroding away.

In less than a year, basins were built to slow down flooding in the Pipeline Fire burn scar. Now, the work moves down the creek for at least half a mile.

"We’re talking several hundred homes, dozens of businesses, really quite a bit of Flagstaff has been impacted on this side," Ed Schenk, stormwater section director in Flagstaff said.

Schultz Creek was ground zero of major flooding after the Pipeline Fire.

With vegetation burned away, monsoon storms ripped through the meadow in north Flagstaff.

"We had some fairly large flows about, 1,000 CFS, which is a lot larger than we’ve ever seen before. So it changed the dynamic of this creek. Went from a small babbling brook of snow melt in the springtime to being a river in the summer monsoon season," Schenk said.

Since the basins are done, they’re going to rebuild Schultz Creek through dozens of acres owned by the Museum of Northern Arizona.

"We looked at it as helping the whole community," Andy Bryan with the museum said.

In the creek, they’ll take boulders already on site donated by the museum and place them all throughout and then cover them with dirt.


Pipeline Fire: Man pleads guilty to starting wildfire near Flagstaff

The Pipeline Fire sparked just a few miles from Flagstaff, and court documents reveal it may have been caused by a man who lit his toilet paper on fire after defecating in the forest.

"Found probably 200,000 tons of rock with a value of $100,000 we could contribute to this project," Bryan said.

Schenk says it will prevent serious damage like we saw in 2022.

"By restoring it, by holding everything in place, by protecting it, we’re protecting all those down stream residents," Schenk said.

It won’t be the final step, but a key one to allowing residents to finally remove the countless sandbags.

"We’re getting there, getting close, but not quite there yet," Schenk said.

This work on Schultz Creek should be done in December. The work on the side that’s more complicated has a three-year timeline.