Wawona Northwest Prescribed Fire Update
April 23, 2013
Yosemite National Park firefighters conducted two days of ignition operations and completed the 150 acre Wawona Northwest Segment B Prescribed Fire Monday evening, April 22. Firefighters have begun mop-up activities to secure the fire perimeter. Those actions may include burning out of interior islands and pockets of unburned fuel that could flare up and threaten existing fire perimeter lines. Active burn down will last 1 - 2 weeks. Community members and visitors will continue to observe crews from various federal and state agencies conducting mop-up operations.
A secondary objective is ecosystem restoration. Applying fire under prescribed conditions mimics the frequent, low intensity lightning caused fires that occurred in Sierra 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.
Smoke will be present during the mop-up activities particularly during late evening and early morning hours. Smoky conditions will diminish each day as the fire area cools. Fire managers will continue working with the Mariposa County Air Pollution District (MCAPCD). A burn permit was issued to the park by MCAPCD prior to the start of ignitions. Smoke monitoring equipment was installed within the community and will continue to be monitored. Community members who are sensitive to smoke may want to close their windows and doors during the evening hours in order to reduce their exposure.
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Did You Know?
In Wawona and downstream, the South Fork Merced River provides habitat for a rare plant, the Sierra sweet bay (Myrica hartwegii). This special status shrub is found in only five Sierra Nevada counties. In Yosemite, it occurs exclusively on sand bars and river banks along the South Fork Merced River downstream from Wawona and on Big Creek.