Fort Apache Indian Reservation issues forest closures 6/16/2022



Executive Order No. 06202202 – Amended

Ordering Closures and Fire Restrictions on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation,

with Limited Exceptions for Recreation and Other Activities

The Chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe hereby implements the following restrictions, pursuant to authority vested in the Chairman of the by Section 5.3 (B) of the White Mountain Apache Tribe Government Code.

The Chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe (“Tribe”), by signing this Executive Order, hereby imposes restrictions on public recreation to and within specified areas of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (“Reservation”). This Executive Order applies to all Tribal members and nonĀ­ members, and is needed to protect our lands against the current fire danger that threatens the Tribe’s natural resources, timber, wildlife, economic resources, security, health, welfare and public safety. It is the intent of this Order to reduce the likelihood of human-caused wildfires on the Reservation.

Many of the publicly-open recreational lakes and campsites located on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation shall remain open to the public throughout the summer, subject to the hereby updated Stage 2 Fire Restrictions, and additional subsequent restrictions, as may be necessary. Additionally, all back-country sites on the Reservation are closed to the public until further notice, with exceptions for Law Enforcement, Game & Fish and Forest Rangers. This Order will be strictly enforced due to the drought that has created dangerous conditions conducive to accidental or intentionally-set fires.

  1. Restricted areas include those unpopulated areas and non-exempted recreational sites within the following boundaries and as indicated on the attached map:
  • East along the eastern Fort Apache Indian Reservation boundary (NE to SE comers);
    • South along the Black River and Salt River (SE to SW comers);
    • West from the Salt River along the western Reservation boundary up to the NW comer of the Reservation and the northern boundary;
    • North along the Fort Apache Indian Reservation Boundary (NW to NE comers);
    • Traffic will not be permitted on R-55 beyond the junction at Rock Creek (R-55 & R-30);
  • Traffic will not be allowed on Y-70 beyond Seven Mile Hill;
    • All Salt River and Black River recreation sites are closed;
    • West of Cibecue School; and
    • North of Cibecue.
  • The following recreational lakes, rivers, and campsite areas are hereby CLOSED:
  • Reservation Lake;
    • Drift Fence Lake;
    • Pacheta Lake;
    • Tonto Lake;
    • Christmas Tree Lake;
    • Hurricane Lake;
    • Bonito Prairie Stock Tanks;
    • Bootleg Lake;
    • Iron Mine;
    • Black River;
    • Salt River;
    • Cibecue Falls;
    • Pacheta Falls;
    • East Fork above Rock Creek Jct.; and
    • Diamond Creek from 1st bridge up to 2nd bridge.
  • Authorized Personnel for closed areas: All areas closed within this Executive Order shall remain open for fire-fighting professionals and individuals on official Tribal business by relevant Tribal Programs, BIA personnel, timber harvesting activities, and critical infrastructure personnel. All such program personnel/vehicles need to be equipped with fire mitigation measures such as fire extinguishers, tools, radio communications, and PPE (some combination of one or more of these items). The following departments and programs will collaborate with the Game Rangers and inform them of authorized staff and authorized locations where work is occurring:
  • Tribal Forestry staff, crews, and contractors;
    • BIA Fire and Forestry personnel and crews;
    • Game Rangers and Forest Ranger;
    • Game and Fish staff and crews (Wildlife, Fisheries, Recreation);
    • Logging Operations- Sawmill;
    • Bear and Lion Outfitter guides;
    • Land Operations;
    • Livestock Associations;
    • Hydrology;
    • Cultural Resources and Archaeology;
    • Environmental Protection;
    • Public Works;
    • Transportation and Roads Departments;
  • WMA Housing Authority;
    • Critical infrastructure personnel; and
    • Public Safety Officers, including Police, Fire and Rescue, and EMS.


  1. The following recreational lakes and camp site areas shall remain OPEN with Stage 2 Fire Restrictions in effect:
  • Sunrise Lake;
    • A-1 Lake;
    • BogTank;
    • Horseshoe Lake;
    • Big Bear Lake;
    • Little Bear Lake;
    • Hawley Lake;
    • Earl Park Lake;
    • Cyclone Lake;
    • Ditch Camp;
    • Paradise Creek;
    • Lower Log Campsites;
    • Upper Log Campsites;
    • Cooley Lake;
    • East Fork to Rock Creek Junction;
    • Diamond Creek area from Pump station up to Fish Hatchery; and
    • Cibecue Creek camp grounds (south of West End Elk Camp turn off).
  • Roads that are used as boundaries of this area will remain open to public traffic, unless otherwise specified.



1. Building, maintaining, attending, or using fire, campfire or charcoal-burning devices are prohibited until further notice. The use of propane campfire or fire pit devices is prohibited as well.

EXEMPTIONS: Fires that are related to traditional ceremonies, religious events, wakes, and residential/tailgate cooking fires are allowed within the communities and within designated ceremonial areas. Propane grills are allowed.

11.  No debris burning until further notice.

111. Smoking is prohibited, except within an enclosed vehicle or building. 1v. Fireworks are always prohibited on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

v. Discharging of firearms is prohibited.

v1.  All motorized travel is restricted to developed roads.

v11. Operating an internal combustion engine other than a motor vehicle in forest and woodland areas is prohibited until further notice.

v111. Welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame m forest and woodland areas is prohibited until further notice.

1x. Cattle branding is prohibited until further notice.

x. Antler hunting is prohibited until further notice.


1. Power saws are prohibited from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. for any wood cutting/thinning activity, except project crews which are properly equipped and performing fuels treatment projects may continue to work until 2:00 p.m. with one-half hour of monitoring by the entire crew following operations plus the provision identified under fire guards. Fire guards shall remain on duty each day for two hours after wood works has stopped. Fuels projects may mitigate this requirement with the addition of fire qualified engine patrols for two hours following completion of operations for the day. This restriction does not apply to residential and commercial properties.

11. Crawler-tractors, skidders, and sheers may be used until 10:00 a.m. Turbine-driven rubber-tire skidders, feller-bunchers, delimbers, and clearing equipment may be used until 12:00 noon. Operation on mineral soil .involving road excavating, watering, grading, surfacing, rock crushing, and/or other equipment maintenance may continue with unrestricted hours. Operations NOT on mineral soil must also shut down at 12:00 noon.

111. Welding is prohibited by the general public and is only allowed by authorized Tribal, Federal, or commercial personnel, and it is limited to commercial areas. Welding is not allowed in forest or woodland areas. Authorized personnel must have a fire extinguisher on hand and must stop work at 12:00 noon.


  • East of Cibecue Creek; South of BIA Route 12 (Cibecue Creek to Cibecue Junction), US Route 60 (Cibecue Junction to Carrizo Junction) and State Route 73 to Fort Apache; west of White River to the confluence of the White and Black Rivers. (See the attached map.)

A firewood permit (no fee) is required to harvest :firewood in the designated area noted above. Also, a permit (no fee) is required to harvest other forest products and the poles used in a Sunrise Dance ceremony. The permit will serve as a pass to and from firewood gathering areas and the closed forest. Permits may be picked up at the Fort Apache Agency’s Branch of Forestry Office. All persons engaged in firewood gathering must have hand tools to extinguish any fires that may start, such as shovels, rakes, axes, and McLeods.


This Order shall become effective beginning Saturday, June 18, 2022. This policy shall remain effective until conditions improve at which time an announcement will be issued by the Tribe to lift the restrictions imposed herein. Anyone that violates this Order shall be subject to civil and/or criminal fines and penalties up to $2,000.00 and may be subject to imprisonment, where applicable, damages, and federal prosecution if unlawful actions lead to loss oflife or natural resources.


The Tribal Forestry Department and Fire and Rescue, in conjunction with BIA Fire Management, and Game and Fish, Tribal Forest Rangers, and Tribal Police shall inform the public of any supplemental restrictions and are responsible for monitoring and enforcing full compliance with the policy as stated herein. This Order is to be distributed to all Tribal programs, departments, enterprises, and federal, local, and state agencies, as well as to members of the news media. Furthermore, all Tribal Agency and Enterprise supervisors shall cooperate fully and provide any assistance necessary to help carry out the terms and conditions specified in this Executive Order.

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Kasey Velasquez, Chairman White Mountain Apache Tribe

Issued this 15th day of June, 2022.

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