Yosemite National Park is planning a prescribed fire in the Wawona area, near the South Entrance. The fire is planned for tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015 and will include 533 acres. The first segment of the burn will consist of 60 acres. The completion of the remaining 473 acres will occur throughout the month of March, weather dependent, concluding no later than Monday, March 30, 2015.
The prescribed fire is scheduled to occur just prior to precipitation in the Yosemite area. The burn area does not have a history of prescribed fire treatment on record. However, 200 feet of understory vegetation has previously been thinned to facilitate the use of the road as a fuel break.
The primary objective of the prescribed fire is to reduce hazardous vegetation (fuel) around the community of Wawona. The project will also help protect park infrastructure at the South Entrance Station and reduce the threat of wildfires originating along the Wawona Road that could adversely impact the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Through this burn, a continuous fuel break will be created between the community of Wawona and the South Entrance, linking multiple previous fires, including prescribed fires and thinning projects.
Further objectives of the project include ecosystem restoration. Prescribed fires mimic the frequent, low intensity lightning caused fires that occur naturally in the Yosemite area. Historically, natural fire burned an average of 16,000 acres annually in Yosemite. These fires played an integral role in shaping Yosemite’s ecosystem. In the absence of fire, unnatural levels of forest fuel can accumulate, placing Yosemite’s natural and cultural values at risk.
During active burning, smoke may be present along the Wawona Road and in the community of Wawona. Fire managers are working with the Mariposa County Air Pollution District (MCAPCD) to time the project to coincide with favorable weather that will facilitate good air quality, and disperse smoke into the atmosphere away from the community. Prior to ignition, smoke monitoring equipment will be installed in the community and a burn permit will be issued to the park by MCAPCD.
Visitors and employees are urged to drive with caution as firefighters, fire equipment, smoke, and debris may be present along the roadway.
Fire crews from the National Park Service, CAL FIRE, and the U.S. Forest Service are assisting in this prescribed fire.
For more information about fire management in Yosemite National Park, please visit: http://www.nps.gov/yose/blogs/fireinfo.htm