Fire has been a part of the Colorado Plateau ecosystem for thousands of years. Its presence is important for wildlife habitat, nutrient recycling, plant diversity, and overall landscape health. Fire managers at Grand Canyon National Park seek to strike a balance between restoring and maintaining natural processes associated with fire, and protecting human life and property.
During the past century, fire was feared and suppressed. This led to a significant and unnatural buildup of live and dead trees, pine needles, shrubs, and grasses. Not only does this buildup create risks for developments near wildland areas, it poses a threat to the health of the forests.
Fire naturally thins the forest, recycles nutrients into the soil, and stimulates new plant growth. Fire ecology research has shown that many plant and animal species benefit from the rejuvenating effects of fire.
Fire managers use monitoring data and the latest fire ecology research to guide their efforts to restore the natural fire regimes at Grand Canyon National Park. Fire managers work with wildlife biologists, vegetation ecologists, historic preservation specialists, and interagency cooperators to achieve common goals of enhanced habitat and improved ecosystem functions.