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Lassen Volcanic National Park Manages Forest Ecosystems with Prescribed Burns

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Date: June 1, 2009
Contact: Darlene M. Koontz, 530-595-4444 x5101

Lassen Volcanic National Park fire staffs completed the Loomis Prescribed Fire on May 15. The fire, which is a continuation of a project begun last fall, was approximately 20 acres and located adjacent to the Manzanita Lake Amphitheater and Camper Store.

Prescribed fires are used to consume coarse, woody debris on the forest floor and remove ladder fuels. Ladder fuels are comprised of branches and the understory layer of small trees and brush which allow a fire to climb from the ground into the forest canopy. Prescribed fire has a number of ecological benefits, including recycling nutrients into the soil, increasing biodiversity by promoting the growth of grasses, forbs, and shrubs, and encouraging the regeneration of ponderosa and Jeffrey pine trees.

The park has successfully completed several prescribed fire projects around the Manzanita Lake developed area. “By reintroducing fire in the ponderosa and Jeffrey pine forests we reduce the risk of intense crown fire in the future,” stated Superintendent Darlene M. Koontz. Historically, fire would have roamed through the area naturally every 5-20 years. “Frequent prescribed fire projects in this area are necessary to restore forest ecosystems which have evolved around frequent, low intensity, natural fires.

Park visitors can expect to see gradual changes over time that eventually result in healthy open pine stands with a diverse understory of herbaceous plants.” added Koontz. Park visitors will also have the opportunity to view the changes wrought by the recent fire. The young flowering plants and grasses that will sprout in the nutrient rich soil of the burned area are highly palatable to wildlife and visitors can expect to see evidence of species such as California voles, mountain pocket gophers and black-tailed deer taking advantage of the succulent young growth. Many species of birds utilize burned areas, in particular species such as the Black-backed Woodpecker, which follows the occurrence of wood-boring beetles in recently burned habitats.

For more information, please contact the park at 530/595-4480 daily, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m or log on to the park website at www.nps.gov/lavo and select the management link for more information about fire management at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Did You Know?

picture of car sized snowblower against 10 foot snow drifts blowing the snow above the drifts

The Lassen Volcanic National Park Main Park Road can open as early as May 10th and as late as mid-July depending on how much snow falls during the winter.