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Museum Fire closure area

The Museum Fire closure area as of Tuesday, Aug. 6.

The Coconino National Forest is allowing recreationalists to return to the trails and forests on the east and southeast side of Mount Elden as of Tuesday morning.

The Burned Area Emergency Response team has completed their initial assessment of the Museum Fire burn scar. The Flagstaff Ranger District has then determined it is safe to reduce the size of the closure area to allow more recreating around Mount Elden. The trials that are open include Schultz Creek, Fatman's Loop, Elden Lookout, Little Elden, Pipeline, Sandy Seep, Christmas Tree and Heart.

The U.S. Forest Service suggests people read the entire closure order to ensure they understand the specifics of the restricted areas, as some trails are only partially open to recreation. Trails like Lower Oldham, Rocky Ridge, Brookbank and others are still within the closure area.

“A closure is still needed to keep visitors safe during the upcoming helicopter mulching in the high-severity burn areas and to protect other impacted resources,” the forest service’s media release said. “The closure is very similar to the closure implemented for the timber reduction in the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project earlier this year.”

Forest officials said they would modify the closure area again after the mulching is complete approximately two months from now.

The Museum Fire closure was first set up on July 23 and revised on July 29 as the dangers from the fire lessened. The Museum Fire has burned 1,961 acres and is now 93% contained as of midday Tuesday. There are currently 20 fire personnel working on the fire.

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Post-fire flooding impacts are expected within the Elden Estates, Paradise Way, Grandview, Linda Vista and Sunnyside areas in the presence of heavy rains on the Museum Fire scar in the years to come.

Any violation of the closure order is punishable as a misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization and/or imprisonment for no more than six months.

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Scott Buffon can be reached at sbuffon@azdailysun.com, on Twitter @scottbuffon or by phone at (928) 556-2250.

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Senior Reporter - Cops, Environment

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