Additional trails are open For the first time since July 14, air quality in Yosemite Valley has improved to where it is no longer in the “unhealthy” category as defined by federal standards. Smoke effects from the Meadow Fire have been on the decline for the past two days and the trend is expected to continue. Smoke production has been reduced resulting in an air quality level that is now only “unhealthy for sensitive groups” which includes the elderly, children, and people with respiratory problems.
Current trends show air quality conditions could improve to the “moderate” category tomorrow; there are no cautionary concerns with this category. It is important to note that visitors to Yosemite National Park will notice smoke in Yosemite Valley primarily in the late night time and early morning hours. During the late morning and afternoon, vertical mixing allows for the dispersion of the smoke, resulting in cleaner air and improved visibility.
The Meadow Fire started by lightning after a thunderstorm passed through the area during the last week of June and has grown to 4,777 acres. An Interagency Wildland Fire Use Management Team is managing the Meadow Fire to benefit Yosemite National Park´s Illilouette Basin, an area where natural fire and its effects have created a patchwork of burned areas since 1973. This mosaic of burned and unburned areas reduces intensity of subsequent fires and restores fire as a natural part of the ecological process.
The team has implemented actions that have reduced fire growth resulting in less smoke production. Fire crews have constructed line around over half of the fire thereby curtailing further spread toward the Glacier Point Road and Little Yosemite Valley. The fire is currently moving to the southeast into previous burned areas from the 1980´s and 1990´s. There are 135 personnel assigned containing the spread of the fire.
The National Park Service is committed to reducing smoke impacts for visitors and is making every effort to provide current information so visitors may plan their stay accordingly. Strategies to avoid smoke exposure might include visiting other parts of the park early and returning to Yosemite Valley later in the morning until dark when visibility is excellent. To see the current view of the Yosemite Valley, go to: www.yosemite.org/vryos/index.htm
With the decrease in fire activity, the following trails are now open:
* The Mono Meadow Trail
* The Buena Vista (or Illilouette Creek) Trail from the Panorama to the
Mono Meadow Trail junction As soon as conditions allow, additional trail openings will be announced.
(National Park Service Press Release)