Roadside Naturalist: Fire Danger Signs
September 15, 2012
Fire Danger Signs
August and September
As visitors enter Yosemite National Park, they are confronted with large signs that describe the current fire danger level. These signs are different at different entrances because the fire danger changes with the local conditions. At lower elevations, the temperatures are hotter and the fire danger more extreme. August and September are typically two of our driest months with average total rainfall during that period of less than one inch. This year, the conditions have been made worse by the below average snowfall we had last winter. No relief is expected as the summer drought period lasts into October. We will all have to continue to be very careful with fire in the park. At the Big Oak Flat Wilderness Center, backcountry campers are being discouraged from having campfires because of the increased risk. Campers in developed campsites should keep campfires small. Remember not to burn anything that doesn't fit in your fire ring. Most importantly, never leave a campfire unattended and please put it out completely, with water, before leaving.
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Did You Know?
The indigenous people of Yosemite Valley have used fire as a tool for thousands of years. Fire was used to encourage the growth of plants used for basket making and to promote the growth of the black oak--a sun loving species--and a staple food source for American Indians from this region.