• Rainbow over Half Dome


    National Park California

Prescribed Fire

Aerial view of prescribed fire in Yosemite Valley

Aerial view of a prescribed fire in Yosemite Valley

Prescribed Fire History Map: View four decades of Rx burns.

Prescribed fires are ignited by qualified park fire staff under certain pre-determined conditions. These fires are carefully managed to achieve public safety goals by protecting developed areas by clearing unsafe accumulations of dead and down wood as well as for ecological restoration.

A Prescription for Fire
A fire’s prescription is the window within which a fire may be ignited. These conditions maximize the ability to control the fire and minimize smoke in local communities. These fires are intentionally set to meet certain objectives and achieve specific goals. The timing and scheduling of these fires depends on a variety of factors, including fuel conditions, weather, air quality, and other events occurring in the park.

Prescribed fire helps reduce heavy fuel loads while simultaneously opening the conifer forest structure and maintaining the health of meadow habitats. Fire is also used to enhance native plant communities, cultural landscapes, and improve wildlife habitat. Another goal is to provide defensible space for communities and developed areas within and surrounding the park. Since the 1970s, park managers have been using prescribed fire and managed lightning fire to help reach these goals.

Did You Know?

American Indians use traditional ignition methods on a prescribed fire project

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.