Yosemite National Park Fire Managers are planning a prescribed fire in the southern portion of the park. The burn will start Thursday, April 4, or later, and is dependent on weather conditions. Specifically, the burn area is located near the community of Wawona. The total prescribed burn area will include 150 acres. The prescribed area is at the optimal fuel moisture level to successfully complete the project. This will be the first prescribed burn of the 2013 fire season.
The prescribed fire is a collaborative effort between the National Park Service (NPS), CAL FIRE, and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The primary objective of the prescribed fire is to create defensible space for potential catastrophic wildfire that may approach the community of Wawona from north and from the direction of the South Fork of the Merced River. This project will also facilitate the reintroduction of fire into the ecosystem and restore the forest area. A combination of fuel reduction techniques have previously been utilized in the targeted area, including mechanical thinning, pile burning and prescribed burning. The use of these techniques, in conjunction with previous natural fire events, including the 2007 lightning caused Jack Fire, will further reduce the likelihood of fire originating at lower elevations.
It is estimated that the burn will take approximately two weeks to complete. Smoke from the fire may be visible throughout the park, but may be more evident in the southern portion of the park along Highway 41 corridor and near the communities of Wawona, Fish Camp and Yosemite West. Smoke, affecting health, is always a consideration in the decision to schedule prescribed fires. A smoke management plan has been submitted to the Mariposa County Air Pollution Control District, and a burn permit will be issued prior to ignition. A smoke monitor will be placed in Wawona to monitor Yosemites air quality.