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Three Finger Mesa Prescribed Fire Planned in Zion National Park

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Date: October 2, 2008
Contact: David Eaker, 435-772-7811

According to Superintendent Jock Whitworth, Zion National Park plans to start ignition of the 2,100 acre Three Finger Mesa Prescribed Fire during the week of October 6th, 2008.   The exact date of the ignition will depend on weather conditions and the availability of firefighting resources.  This prescribed fire project is located along the northern portion of the park boundary, in the Goose Creek Drainage, southeast of Lava Point.  

The first phase of the project will be a hand-ignited blacklining operation along the MIA Camp Road, a private road which borders a section of the northern boundary of the park.  This phase of the operation will create a buffer zone that will help to ensure that the fire stays within the predetermined burn unit.  Once this phase of the operation is successfully completed, hand and aerial ignition of the interior of the unit will begin.  This second phase of the operation may occur up to a few weeks after the blacklining operation. Once the burn unit is ignited, it will actively burn for 1-3 days and then smolder for an extended period.  The fire will be closely monitored by park personnel until declared out.  Management goals of this burn are to maintain boundary protection by reducing excess hazardous fuels and to apply fire to the landscape thus maintaining the natural role it plays in this ecosystem.

Short-term impacts will be possible smoky conditions and closure of trails in the vicinity of the burn area. Forecasted weather conditions should provide good smoke dispersal, but there is potential for it to settle into the canyons during the night.  Plans are for the West Rim and Wildcat Trail systems to remain open during the burn but the West Rim Trail Road from Lava Point will be closed to vehicles.  Hikers must either walk the road or the Barney Trail from Lava Point to access the trailhead.

The goal of the prescribed fire program in Zion is to use management-ignited prescribed fire, where appropriate, for the restoration of fire-dependent ecosystems and species-specific resource management goals.  Prescribed fire projects are to be conducted in a manner consistent with land and resource management plans, public health considerations and approved prescribed fire plans.  The policy of using fire as a tool will help decrease risks to life, property and resources; prescribed fires will help perpetuate the natural resource values for which Zion National Park was established.

For more information about this or other prescribed fire projects in Zion, call 435-772-3256 or visit our website at www.nps.gov/zion.   

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