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Yosemite To Ignite Several Prescribed Burns For Winter Season

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Yosemite, CA – Preparations are underway at Yosemite National Park to ignite its fall and winter prescribed fire and fuels projects.

The public will be notified of burn locations when the dates are determined. Park officials indicate that over 50 years of research has taught park managers that, in contrast to previous beliefs, “total suppression of all fires does not prevent large severe wildfires” and only contributed to the “proliferation of large severe wildfires that burn unpredictably.” Park managers add that fires are inevitable, noting “working with fire is an effective way to protect our resources.”

The methods of burning to be used during the winter projects include prescribed fire, pile burning and mechanical thinning. Park officials provided these details on the projects with plans to burn around 1,250 acres of fuels:

Crane Flat Prescribed Fire 

Crews are continuing preparation for a prescribed fire near Crane Flat lookout between the Tioga Road and Big Oak Flat Road. Crews will conduct pre-burn fuels treatments in this area to reduce the heavy accumulation of dead and down fuels prior to broadcast burning. The exact ignition date of this prescribed fire depends on a crucial mixture of weather, fuels moistures, and firefighter availability. Smoke impacts will be localized to the Crane Flat area during the day. However, transient smoke will likely drift down canyon during the evening hours. Planned treatment: 670 acres.

Valley Prescribed Fire

Planning is in place for burning to occur in units east of El Capitan Crossover and at Ahwahnee Meadow. The exact ignition dates of these prescribed fires depend on a crucial mixture of weather, fuel moisture, and firefighter availability. Crews will conduct pre-burn fuels treatments in this area to reduce heavy accumulation of dead and down fuels prior to burning. Smoke will be localized to Yosemite Valley. Planned treatment: 380 acres

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Fire managers are planning on continuing treatments in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Prescribed fire mimics natural ignition wildfires on the landscape and aids in the regeneration of giant sequoias, it also restores a more natural fire return interval keeping the ecosystem healthy and resilient. Crews may be observed conducting pre-burn vegetation treatments to reduce the heavy accumulation of dead and down fuels prior to broadcast burning. The exact ignition dates for sections in the grove are unknown. Smoke will be localized to the Mariposa Grove but may be observed from the community of Wawona. Planned treatment: 200 acres

Park Wide Pile Burning

Pile burning will continue throughout the park as conditions allow. Burning piles is an efficient and effective way to reduce excessive fuel build-up on the landscape. Mechanical thinning operations and landscape restoration projects produce burn piles throughout the park. Smoke from ignited piles will remain until each pile is completely consumed. Pile burning days will be announced in the Yosemite Daily Report. To sign up for these reports send an email to yose_daily_report@nps.gov

Fuels Projects

Mechanical fuels work will continue within park communities. These projects are on-going and will mainly consist of cutting dead and down vegetation with chainsaws then piling it for future burning. You may see fuels crews and heavy equipment near residences, please use caution around working fuels crews.

Smoke will be visible inside the park and in nearby communities during the prescribed fire burns. Park officials say managers will reduce ignitions or take appropriate action in response to unfavorable smoke impacts. Also, a smoke management plan will be submitted, and a burn permit will be issued for each project.

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