Yosemite National Park Fire Managers are planning a prescribed fire in the north western portion of the park near the Big Oak Flat Entrance Station on Highway 120 (Big Oak Flat Road) on Tuesday, June 19, 2012. The ignition of the fire is dependent on weather conditions. The total prescribed burn area will include 220 acres and be split into two units. The prescribed area is at the optimal fuel moisture level to successfully complete the project. This will be the first prescribed burn of the 2012 fire season.
The two units have minimal fire history between 1930 and 1990, although natural fire history is evident in the area by fire scars on several mature trees. Since 1990, a hazardous fuel reduction program has been implemented to protect private and public structures around the Hodgdon Wildland Urban Interface (WUI).
The most recent projects were last summer with over 500 acres being treated. A mixture of fuel reduction techniques have been used including mechanical thinning, pile burning and prescribed burning. These WUI treatments have created defensible space for the Hodgdon residential area.
This project will not only extend the defensible space, but also facilitate the reintroduction of fire into the ecosystem and restore the forest area. Combined with other burns near Crane Flat, and Rockefeller Grove areas, and with the fuel reduction projects conducted by the Stanislaus National Forest along Evergreen Road, this project will further reduce the likelihood of catastrophic fire originating at lower elevations, either inside or outside of the park affecting communities in mixed confer pine forest.
It is estimated that the burn will take approximately three days to complete. Smoke from the burn may be visible throughout the park, but may be more evident in the northern portion of the park.
Smoke, affecting health, is always a consideration in the decision to schedule prescribed fires. A smoke management plan has been submitted to the Tuolumne County Air Pollution Control District, and a burn permit has been issued. Smoke monitors will be placed in and around the area of the prescribed fire to monitor Yosemite’s air quality.
For more information on this specific prescribed burn, or the fire program, please visit: www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/current_fire.htm.