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.

The 200 acre total mastication project will be comleted in 2009. Mastication is one of the many ways that the National Park Service has partnered with the community for fuel reduction.

Community Cooperation for Fuel Reduction

Yosemite National Park, California
National Fire Plan, Community Assistance*

The residents of Foresta, a tiny community located just inside Yosemite's western boundary, have seen their share of fire. In 1990, 45 structures were burned in the devastating A-Rock Fire.

Since then, residents have worked closely with park fire managers to reduce hazard fuels and prevent future loss through a variety of projects including prescribed fire, mastication, property clearing, and proactive community planning, including developing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

About 55 acres were burned in Foresta, directly adjacent to houses.

In June, 2008, an approximately 55 acre prescribed burn was completed just adjacent to houses, allowing for clearance of dense re-growth after the 1990 fire. Fire managers utilized night time ignitions to accomplish the much-needed burn successfully and minimize impacts to the community. Additionally, approximately 70 acres along the Foresta Road were selectively cleared with a masticator in 2009, with a total project goal of about 200 acres to be completed in 2009.

The Foresta Prescribed Fire was the first significant, post-A-Rock Fire, prescribed fire treatment in the densely re-vegetated wildland-urban interface area adjacent to homes. While relatively small in size, it was particularly challenging for a number of reasons. Cooperation was required between Yosemite's interagency partners, the park's internal management staff, and the community. The dense vegetation adjacent to homes required special, extraordinary mitigation measures. The project was a success in part due to the ongoing efforts being made by the park to uphold the Community Wildland Fire Protection Plan, which seeks to protect Foresta from the threat of future wildfire through combined mechanical hazard fuel reduction treatments and prescribed burning. Another indicator of success, or at least approval from the community, was "it was the first time I have ever seen a "Thank You Firefighters" poster on a prescribed fire," said Prescribed Fire Specialist Taro Pusina.

A historic photo shows the density of trees prior to the 1990 A-Rock Fire.

Community leaders in Foresta are quick to agree with park managers about the importance of a cooperative, holistic approach to fuel reduction. Peter Padilla, president of the Foresta Preservation Association lists the numerous projects that residents have undertaken to help keep their community safe, including lot clearing, brush piling, maintaining defensible space, and working to secure federal funds to help offset the costs of the projects. "Foresta residents are in a partnership with the park for fuel reduction and fire safety projects, and we are happy to continue in that joint effort."

Contact: Adrienne Freeman, Outreach and Education, Protection Division
Phone: (209) 742-3391

*This story supports the Department of the Interior initiatives.