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Prescribed Fire Planned for North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park

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Date: October 12, 2010
Contact: Shannan Marcak, 928-638-7958

Grand Canyon, Ariz. – Fire managers in Grand Canyon National Park are making plans to initiate a prescribed fire on the North Rim within the next few weeks.

The Walla Valley Prescribed Fire will be located in the Walla Valley and Point Sublime area, approximately ten miles west of the North Rim developed area. The fire will be bounded on the west side by the w6 road and the canyon rim, on the south and east sides by the canyon rim, and on the north and northeast sides by the w4 and Point Sublime (w1) roads. The Walla Valley burn unit consists primarily of ponderosa pine. Approximately 5,500 acres will be burned.

In an effort to simulate natural fire events in the North Rim forests, the Walla Valley prescribed fire will use a point source ignition technique intended to mimic a group of lightning ignitions. The ignition points will be allowed to burn in all directions in the same way a naturally ignited fire would burn. The fire is expected to burn over a period of weeks, exposing it to a variety of weather and wind conditions. As a result, it is expected that the effects of the Walla Valley prescribed burn will more closely resemble a natural fire than the effects seen on most conventional prescribed burns. Point source ignition will occur only after blacklining of the north and east perimeters of the burn unit has been completed.

Fire managers use prescribed fire to restore and sustain the fire-dependent ecosystems that surround the

Grand Canyon . Managers carefully plan prescribed fires, igniting them only under environmental conditions that are favorable to assuring firefighter and visitor safety and to achieving the desired benefits to forest health. Benefits from this fire include reducing hazardous build ups of forest fuels, releasing nutrients back into the soil, increasing habitat diversity and creating a sustainable ecosystem.

In order to assure firefighter and visitor safety, Point Sublime will be closed during the burn as will the w4 road from the Swamp Ridge junction south to the Point Sublime junction. In addition, the w1 road will be closed from the Point Sublime junction east to the Basin.

It is expected that smoke from the prescribed fire will be visible from most of the South Rim as well as from Highway 67 and the entrance station on the North Rim. While smoke impacts to the North Rim developed area are expected to be minimal, visitors should expect smoke to settle into the canyon in the evenings and to slowly rise out again once temperatures warm during the day. Coordination with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is ongoing.

For additional information on the Walla Valley Prescribed Fire, please contact Grand Canyon Public Affairs Specialist Shannan Marcak at 928-638-7958 or visit the park's fire information page at http://www.nps.gov/grca/parkmgmt/fire_info.htm.

 -NPS-

Did You Know?

WHITEWATER RAFTING

There are different river trip opportunities through Grand Canyon National Park, including professionally guided raft trips, available to the public and often reserved a year or two in advance; and self-guided, or "private" river trips, made available to the public through a weighted lottery. More...