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Yosemite Park Sets Controlled Burn Activities

Yosemite National Park will be conducting prescribed fire activities this spring to meet the 2003 management goals for wildland urban interface protection and ecosystem restoration. Park operations will continue as usual during these prescribed fires, scheduled for ignition between April 28 and July 1.

Yosemite NP plans approximately 1,300 acres of prescribed burns and 800 acres of mechanical thinning in the low- to mid-elevation Ponderosa Pine-mixed conifer forests on the west side of the park in the upcoming months, weather permitting.

In an effort to reduce fuels and create defensible space, prescribed burns totaling 640 acres will be ignited near Wawona beginning early May and continuing through June. A series of small burns will be conducted south of Wawona on Studhorse Ridge, and another burn will be between Chowchilla Mountain Rd., Big Creek and the Wawona Campground. An additional 20 acres of prescribed burning will occur in El Portal adjacent to government buildings and residences.

As it dries sufficiently at higher elevations later in the spring, approximately 200 acres will be ignited in the Merced Grove area, that being the first stage in an interagency collaboration with the Stanislaus National Forest. And continuing with last year´s large Gin Flat project, 339 acres will also be ignited near Tamarack Flat to provide a reduction of both fuels and fire hazards to Yosemite Institute, Crane Flat and the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias.

Prescribed fires reduce heavy fuel loads while simultaneously opening the conifer forest and maintaining the health of meadow habitats. These areas would have experienced low-intensity surface fires naturally, but due to decades of fire suppression, the natural role of fire was eliminated, resulting in overgrown and unhealthy forests.

Besides being used to thin forests and reduce unnatural fuel loads in forests that are in close proximity to public and private structures and use areas, prescribed fire is used to simulate the effects of a natural lightning-caused fire.

Natural or prescribed fire can result in smoky conditions and/or reduced visibility. Observe all warning signs posted in fire areas, and those with respiratory problems should use caution when exerting themselves in smoky areas.

For information or concerns about prescribed burns or smoke, call Prescribed Fire Information at 209-375-9577.