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Zion National Park to Conduct Pocket Mesa Prescribed Fire

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Date: September 30, 2009
Contact: David Eaker, 435-772-7811

According to Superintendent Jock Whitworth, Zion National Park plans to start ignition of the 2,800 acre Pocket Mesa Prescribed Fire (Rx) sometime during the week of October 4th, 2009.  The exact date of ignition will depend upon weather conditions and the availability of firefighting resources. The burn may be postponed or canceled if conditions are unfavorable.  The Pocket Mesa Rx Burn Unit is located on the park’s northern boundary, along the Kolob Terrace Road, approximately 15 miles north of Virgin, Utah.  

The project will begin with a hand ignited black line operation along the burn unit’s boundary.  This will be followed up by aerial ignition using a helicopter on the interior of the unit.  The project is expected to last for 6-7days.  Some interior, residual smoke may be visible for a few days after ignition has occurred. The fire will be managed and monitored daily by firefighters until it is declared out.  The objective of the prescribed fire is to reduce the amount of hazardous fuel buildup in the area, restore fire to its natural role in the ecosystem and, in turn, to provide protection to private lands adjacent to the park by reducing the risk from wildfire.

Short-term impacts from the prescribed fire will be possible smoky conditions, closure of trails in the vicinity of the burn area and road delays.  Forecasted weather conditions should provide good smoke dispersal, but there is potential for it to settle into the canyons during the night.  

The area in and around the Pocket Mesa Rx Burn Unit is one of the six original critical wildland urban interface focus areas identified in the Color Country Interagency Fire Management Zone. This area, also known as the “Kolob Focus Area”, has received priority status to protect several seasonal communities in the area.

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 specific resource management goals.  The policy of using fire as a management tool will help decrease risks to life, property and resources and will help perpetuate the natural resource values for which Zion National Park was established.

For more information on this or other fire management projects in Zion call 435-772-7811 or visit our website at www.nps.gov/zion.

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