August 16, 2010
Contact: Sean Eagan
Wildfire Burning in Bryce Canyon National Park
A wildfire is currently burning in Bryce Canyon National Park. The Mutton Fire is located approximately one mile south of Yovimpa Point near the park’s southern boundary and is estimated at 12 acres. The fire was ignited by a lightning storm that passed through the area on August 2. Due to its isolated location and the fact that it posed no threats to park resources or visitor safety park officials decided to manage the fire for multiple objectives including returning fire to its natural role in the ecosystem.
The Mutton Fire showed little activity over the first week due to precipitation and cooler temperatures. Activity picked up on August 12 as warmer, drier weather conditions entered the area. Most of the fire activity has been creeping and smoldering in the forest understory with occasional torching of small trees and brush. Firefighters have been monitoring the fire daily since its start and will initiate management actions including line construction, helicopter water drops and burnout operations when deemed necessary to control its growth. With the forecasted weather conditions over the next few days, fire behavior specialists expect the fire to continue to grow within the boundaries of the park, but still not pose any direct threats to public or private resources. The fire is currently being managed by resources from both the National Park Service and the National Forest Service.
The area that the Mutton Fire is burning in has not been impacted by fire for many years resulting in an unnatural buildup of forest fuels. The fire will help to reduce these fuels and return the area to a more natural condition and in turn decrease the risks from unwanted fires in the future. In addition, the area has also been identified for future prescribed burning to reduce fuels while protecting values. The option to allow some naturally ignited wildland fires to provide benefits to the resource instead of suppressing them will give Bryce Canyon fire management personnel another tool to use in their goal to restore fire to the park. It will also help perpetuate the values for which the park was established.
The Riggs Spring Trail, located near the fire area, has been temporarily closed for visitor safety. All other park trails and facilities remain open. Smoke from the Mutton Fire may be visible from the park’s southern viewpoints and area highways but has not been an issue to date. Smoke may settle into low lying valley areas during evening and early morning hours.
For more information on the Mutton Fire and other fire management activities in Bryce Canyon National Park call 435-834-4750.