Wawona Northwest Prescribed Fire Scheduled for Early April
March 20, 2013
Yosemite National Park fire managers are tentatively planning to begin burning the 150 acre Wawona Northwest Segment B Prescribed Fire on April 4, 2013. However, this date may change due to weather conditions. Ignition will take 2 - 4 days and active burn down will last 1 - 2 weeks.
The primary objective is to reduce hazardous fuels within the mixed conifer forest adjacent to the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) community of Wawona at the south end of Yosemite. This project creates a large continuous area of reduced fuel by linking together multiple previous fires and treatments including the 2007 and 2008 Wawona Northwest prescribed fires, the 2007 Jack wildfire which was caused by lightning, and a series of mechanical vegetation thinning projects in the 2000's.
A secondary objective is ecosystem restoration. Applying fire under prescribed conditions mimics the frequent, low intensity lightning caused fires that occurred in Sierras prior to the exclusion of fire which began over 100 years ago under aggressive fire suppression policies. Historically, natural fire burned an average of 16,000 acres annually in Yosemite and played an integral role in shaping Yosemite's ecosystems. In the absence of frequent fire, unnatural levels of forest biomass have accumulated which has put many of Yosemite's values at risk, including neighboring communities, and natural and cultural features. As climate changes, these values become increasingly vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire.
Community members and visitors can expect to see crews from various federal and state agencies preparing the burn unit and conducting burn operations in the coming days. Prior to ignition, old fire control lines around the unit will be improved and new ones will be established.
Smoke will be present during the prescribed fire, particularly during late evening and early morning hours. Fire managers are working with the Mariposa County Air Pollution District (MCAPCD) to time the project to coincide with favorable weather that will facilitate good air quality, and disperse smoke into the atmosphere away from the community. Prior to ignition, a burn permit will be issued to the park by MCAPCD and smoke monitoring equipment will be installed in the community. Community members who are sensitive to smoke may want to close their windows and doors and/or consider leaving the area during active ignition of the project in order to reduce their exposure.
The Wawona Northwest prescribed fire project area is identified in the 2004 Yosemite Fire Management Plan/ Environmental Impact Statement and Multi-year Strategic Fuels Management Plan. The goals and objectives for this project conform to the park's General Management Plan and Vegetation Management Plan.
Updates will be published through the duration of the prescribed fire project.
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Did You Know?
Starting in 1907, the Yosemite Valley Railroad brought passengers bound for Yosemite Valley up the Merced River canyon to El Portal. From there, they would take stagecoaches to the Valley. Some of the old train cars are now on display in El Portal.