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Yosemite Preparing For Prescribed Burning Season

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Yosemite, CA — Yosemite National Park reports that smoke will be visible in various areas once conditions allow for fall and winter prescribed burning.

Yosemite has been conducting prescribed burns over the past 50 years as an ecological tool to improve the health of the forest. The National Park Service notes that prescribed burning is also one of the most effective tools to mitigate the risk and reduce the intensity of wildfires.

The following burns below will be ignited over the coming months based on favorable conditions.

Crane Flat

Units A, B, C: 461 acres

The units in Crane Flat are located along the intersection of Big Oak Flat Road and Tioga Road, south of the Crane Flat Look-out Road and Rockefeller Grove, and east of Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias.

The prescribed burn objectives are to provide protection to the Crane Flat helibase, surrounding infrastructure, and Crane Flat campground. This maintenance burn will restore a more natural ecosystem structure to plant communities. It will provide a buffer above the Big Oak Flat Road and will enable fire managers to plan for a prescribed burn in the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias. This burn is the first sequence enabling the Park to reintroduce fire in the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias. Reintroducing fire will be the best way to protect the grove from future high severity wildfires.

Studhorse

Units 1-5: 261 acres

The units in Studhorse are located south of the community of Wawona and north of Highway 41, and 2 miles northwest of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

The prescribed burn objectives are to maintain healthy, resilient forests, provide community protection around the community of Wawona, and to provide protection to the surrounding communities. This burn is also the first sequence to enabling the Park to continue to prescribe burn within Mariposa Grove and reintroduce fire in the surrounding units to provide protection to the groves. Some of the first prescribed burns in Yosemite occurred in the Studhorse area in the 1970s.

Yosemite Valley

Units 11,13,15,16: 222 acres

These 4 units average 50 acres in size. Unit 11 is located south of Southside Drive near the El Capitan Crossover and Unit 16 is located between Southside Drive and the Four Mile trailhead loop. These two units will likely be burned during the same day. Unit 13 is in the El Capitan Picnic Area and unit 15 is located between the Merced River and Northside Drive about halfway between Yosemite Lodge and El Capitan. Units 13 and 15 will most likely be burned during the same day.

The Yosemite Valley Burn Plan is comprised of 30 units within the upper and lower Yosemite Valley and 5 Parkwide units located east and west of the valley. The objectives of the Yosemite Valley prescribed burns are to restore and maintain plant communities shaped by Native Americans, restore fire and a more natural ecosystem structure to communities, maintain meadows and healthy stands of conifers, and provide protection to infrastructure.

Black Oak restoration and pile burning

Calaveras Healthy Impact Product Solutions (CHIPS) crew composed of local residents and tribal members have been working on restoring California black oak groves in Yosemite Valley through tending in preparation for pile and prescribed burning. Black oak is a cultural keystone species for the park’s seven affiliated tribes. Groves in Yosemite Valley were planted, tended, burned, and harvested by tribal members for centuries. They were removed from this role to the detriment of cultural traditions and the health of black oaks. Tribal and CHIPS crew members will tend to oaks and prepare the groves for prescribed burns. These activities will reestablish relationships with these groves, promote seedling and sapling recruitment and promote high-quality acorn production.

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