/ Modified jan 7, 2021 5:34 p.m.

Tonto National Forest trying to discourage large gathering

Officials say COVID-19 restrictions prohibit this type of large gathering

Tonto National Forest Sign Tonto National Forest
US Department of Agriculture

Tonto National Forest officials are trying to discourage the annual January informal gathering known as the Christmas Tree Burn that has attracted thousands of people in the past.

Forest officials said Wednesday that Arizona’s COVID-19 restrictions prohibit large gatherings and that areas of the forest’s Mesa Ranger District may be closed temporarily for recreation use to ensure that the gathering doesn’t occur.

Forest officials say thousands of people in the past have gathered on the forest to burn Christmas trees. Officials say the gathering last year of some 8,000 people in the Lower Sycamore area left large amounts of trash, abandoned campfires and other damage.

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