Yosemite National Park Fire Managers are planning a prescribed fire in Yosemite Valley in the Taft Toe Area. The burn will start on, or around, June 18, and is dependent on weather conditions. Specifically, the burn area is located along Southside Drive between El Capitan Bridge and the Sentinel Beach picnic area. The total prescribed burn area will include 111 acres and is expected to last one to two days.
Yosemite Valley has received approximately two inches of springtime rain leaving the Taft Toe area moist and within prescription fuel moistures. This prescribed fire will reduce the amount of hazard trees along Southside Drive, which provides increased safety for hikers on nearby trails and drivers along the roadway.
The primary objective of the prescribed fire is to reduce the accumulation of small diameter mixed conifer trees and reduce excessive dead and down woody debris. It will also reduce the amount of fuel build-up, which enables fire to reach the tops of mature trees and threaten mature black oak trees and saplings. A combination of fuel reduction techniques will occur prior to the scheduled fire, including mechanical thinning in order to create more open forest stands and recreate vistas that have long been overgrown by the dense forest.
Smoke from the fire may be visible throughout the park, but may be more evident in Yosemite Valley, Foresta, and the El Portal area. 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 nearby communities to monitor smoke.
Prescribed fires within Yosemite National Park help promote the long term health of the ecosystem. Fire is beneficial for trees, meadows, and wildlife habitat. Specifically, prescribed fires in Yosemite Valley restore vistas, increase the health and longevity of meadows, and reduce the possibility of unwanted wildfires.