The June 2010 Schultz fire on the Coconino National Forest burned approximately 15,000 acres of ponderosa pine forest on the eastern flanks of the San Francisco Peaks approximately four miles northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona. Increased runoff from the burned area has caused extreme flooding in the neighborhoods located downstream. Post fire flooding has damaged stream channels and caused increased erosion and sediment supply to the lower reaches of seven affected watersheds.
We worked with Coconino County and other engineering firms to provide management and liaison services as well as comprehensive planning towards the greater Schultz watershed drainage master plan under the USDA NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP). This program provides financial and technical assistance for projects relating to flooding and erosion. The project included quantification of sediment sources and transport for multiple watersheds. Sediment source studies were utilized to prioritized restoration treatment areas. We were responsible for restoration of eroded stream channels and innovative design and implementation of alluvial fan restoration on multiple watersheds.
The project was funded by the NRCS in 2012. As of Summer 2013, four large scale watershed designs were completed, both on-forest and through the neighborhood. Summer 2013 monsoon rain events were significant, but runoff never entered into the neighborhood from restored watersheds; flows spread across rehabilitated fans on-forest as intended. Another major design was implemented in late 2014. This complex project required coordination with USFS, Coconino County, local residents and multiple design consultants and contractors. The Schultz EWP projects have provided a model for cooperation between local governments and federal agencies focused on a comprehensive approach to watershed restoration and property protection in the aftermath of wildfire.