Grand Canyon National Park Fire Managers Preparing for Multiple Prescribed Fires on the North Rim
Contact: Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski, 928-638-7958
Grand Canyon, AZ – National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) fire managers, working together as the North Zone Interagency Fire Management Program, are preparing for multiple prescribed fires on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Fire managers anticipate initiating these prescribed fire treatments during the fall and winter months as weather and fuel moisture conditions allow.
Prescribed fires play an important role in decreasing risks to life, resources, and property. Fire managers carefully plan prescribed fires, initiating them only under environmental conditions that are favorable to assuring firefighter and visitor safety and to achieving the desired objectives. Prescribed fire objectives include reducing accumulations of hazard fuels, maintaining the natural role of fire in a fire-adapted ecosystem, and protection of sensitive cultural and natural resources.
Bright Angel Prescribed Fire (Bright Angel Rx): The Bright Angel Rx burn unit is within the developed area on the North Rim and is 426 acres in size. Fire managers have identified five units within the 426 acres that will be treated individually. Approximately 95 acres may be treated this fall. The unit is bounded by the Widforss Trail, North Rim helibase, Transept Trail and Highway 67.
This burn unit is comprised of a mixed conifer forest and ponderosa pine. Objectives specific to the Bright Angel Rx include improving the defensible space in the Wildland/Urban Interface (WUI) within the North Rim developed area. This will reduce hazard fuels adjacent to structures to help decrease the threat of unwanted fires.
Thompson Prescribed Fire(Thompson Rx): The Thompson Rx burn unit is located along the northern boundary of the park between Highway 67 and the Arizona Trail on the west and the 2000 Outlet Fire history area and the NPS boundary with the USFS on the east.
This burn unit is approximately 2,350 acres in size and is composed primarily of ponderosa pine with spruce, fir, and aspen. Fire managers plan on re-treating several areas that did not burn during the 2012 Thompson prescribed fire project based on the one year post burn severity. Approximately, 1,100 acres may be re-treated this fall depending on appropriate conditions.
Objectives specific to the Thompson Rx include reducing hazardous fuels, and creating a defensible space along the park/forest boundary to aid in protecting threatened and endangered species habitat adjacent to the boundary, including Apache Trout and Mexican Spotted Owl habitat.
North Rim Slopes Prescribed Fire(Slopes Rx): The Slopes Rx burn unit is located on south facing slopes directly west of Highway 67 and the entrance station and east of the W-4 road and north of the Basin.
This entire burn unit is approximately 22,040 acres in size and will be treated in a multi-year implementation plan. The number of acres treated will vary from year to year. The Slopes Rx includes previously untreated areas (first-entry) and areas that have experienced fire in the recent past. The area is comprised of mixed conifer forest and ponderosa pine.
Objectives of the Slopes Rx include reducing hazardous fuels, returning fire to a fire-adapted ecosystem, and aid in protecting and enhancing Mexican Spotted Owl habitat.
North Rim Pile Burn: Fire managers are also preparing to burn piles of woody debris over the next 30 days as weather conditions allow. The piles are located along Highway 67 and the Range Road and consist primarily of small diameter tree trunks, small branches, twigs and needles.
Smoke: Prescribed fire smoke from will be most visible during ignition operations and will likely gradually diminish after ignitions are completed. Smoke may be visible along Highway 67 and 89A as well as from various locations on the North Rim and South Rim. Fire managers are working with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality- Smoke Management Division to reduce and mitigate potential smoke impacts
Visitors may see fire personnel, vehicles, and air support in the vicinity when any prescribed fire is being implemented. Please drive slowly, turn your lights on, and avoid stopping in areas where fire personnel are working.
Plans for each burn unit contain a set of parameters which define the desired weather and fuel conditions under which a prescribed fire can be initiated. Prior to implementing the burns, fire managers will evaluate current conditions and will only begin ignition if the prescribed conditions are within those parameters.
No additional news release will be issued unless conditions or impacts require updates. Ignition of any of these prescribed fires will be announced via Twitter @GrandCanyonNPS and on the park's website http://www.nps.gov/grca/parkmgmt/firemanagement.htm. Status of any initiated prescribed fire can be tracked on InciWeb at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/. You may also contact Grand Canyon Public Affairs Specialist Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski at 928-638-7958.