Fire in the Parks
Be aware that fire and/or smoke may be present in the parks at any time. Click on "Current Fire Information" for details.
Land Shaped by Fire
Natural fires as well as prescribed burns are critical to the park ecosystems you have come to see. Occasionally that means that a trail or area may be closed temporarily due to dense smoke or the presence of flames. In other areas you may smell smoke, even if the fire is not nearby. Fire and/or smoke may be present in these parks at any time of year.
Why use fire? It is a natural part of these landscapes. Plants and animals here have adapted to it. Some actually need periodic fire for survival. Sequoias, for example, have adaptations to survive fire, and have trouble reproducing without it. Flames clear and fertilize the ground under the big trees, leaving the kind of soil in which their seeds germinate best. Not coincidentally, fire also opens sequoia cones, so that seeds rain down on this excellent seedbed. In addition, fires remove ground vegetation and forest litter that compete with the seedlings for moisture, nutrients, and sunlight.
Throughout the parks, complete fire suppression would harm the parks' natural character and increase the threat of catastrophic wildfires. Therefore, the park uses natural fires as well as prescribed burns to maintain these ecosystems.