The Deadman Mesa Mastication Project is a multi-partnership project funded by the USFS, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation ($30-50,000 per year), Arizona Game and Fish Department ($100,000 per year for 5 years) and Pine Strawberry Fuel Reduction ($50,000).
This is a three phase project utilizing mechanical mastication to restore 3,885 acres of historic grasslands. The first phase consisted of a 707 acre mastication process which was completed along the South side of Fossil Creek. The second phase consist of mastication over 3,178 acres in the same area on the North side of the Fossil Creek road. Phase three will consist of post treatment prescribed burning on that landscape 3-5 years after mastication.
The masticator grinds invasive juniper trees and other woody species down to ground level. This project will not only benefit multiple big game species and benefit the Fossil Creek and Hardscrabble Creek watersheds, it will also help serve as a fire break south of three small communities Pine, Strawberry, and Randall Place.
Boom head masticators (large excavators) shred juniper and brush down to the forest floor which broadcasts and spreads it out. They will grind alligator and shaggy bark juniper down to the root ball of the tree. Anything under 20 inches will be shredded. There will remain large groups of trees 150 ft. apart to provide shade for wildlife. The mastication process cost approximately $200-$400 per acre.