Fire Stories

Fire stories from the national parks highlight events, incidents, and the like, associated with fire and fuels management, as well as fire education, technology, partnerships, and more. Stories highlight work related to Department of the Interior initiatives as well as local and regional initiatives.

Hand ignition of Green Canyon prescribed fire at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Firefighters hand ignite a portion of the Green Grizzly prescribed fire at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

First Prescribed Fire in Park’s History Implemented

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
National Fire Plan, Fuels Reduction*

After months of planning and preparation, the park staff’s patience and hard work paid off with the successful implementation of their first ever prescribed fire. The 80-acre Green Grizzly Prescribed Fire, located on the north rim of the Black Canyon, was completed in early May 2009. Since the park does not have a dedicated fire staff, the prescribed fire’s success was due in large part to the cooperative efforts of the Montrose Interagency Fire Management Unit partners, which includes the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. This fire management unit covers approximately 4.4 million acres in west-central Colorado. Personnel from all of these agencies assisted with the prescribed fire.

The objectives of the Green Grizzly Prescribed Fire were to reduce the amount of hazardous fuels in the area, improve the habitat for the threatened Gunnison Sage Grouse and to reintroduce fire to its natural role in the grass, sagebrush and mountain shrub ecosystem. Fire managers attempted to achieve a “mosaic” burn pattern in the unit, which would mimic a naturally ignited lightning fire. Openings in the burn unit produced by hand-ignited fire were kept to a maximum of 10 acres. This type of burn pattern will benefit the Gunnison Sage Grouse and other animal and plant species that call this landscape their home.

The Green Grizzly Prescribed Fire will benefit not only park resources by the reintroduction of fire to the ecosystem but also park visitors and local residents/landowners by reducing the risk from wildfires. The policy of using fire as a management tool will help perpetuate many of the values for which the park was established.

Contact: David Eaker, Fire Communication and Education Specialist
Phone: (435) 772-7811

*This story supports Department of the Interior initiatives.