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Contact: Shannan Marcak, 928-638-7958
Grand Canyon, Ariz. – A Record of Decision (ROD) for Grand Canyon National Park’s Final Environmental Impact Statement and Assessment of Effect (FEIS/AEF) on the park’s Fire Management Plan was signed on January 12, 2010 by Michael D. Snyder Regional Director for the Intermountain Region of the National Park Service (NPS). A Notice of Availability was published in the Federal Register today. The National Park Service selected the Preferred Alternative as outlined in the FEIS/AEF, issued on August 7, 2009, as it provided park staff a balanced approach to managing fire within Grand Canyon using mechanical and manual thinning around values at risk, suppression, wildland fire use (now called wildfire managed for resource objectives) , and prescribed fire. A copy of the ROD, which documents the decision and rationale for that decision, and the FEIS/AEF can be found at parkplanning.nps.gov/grca. Choose Fire Management Plan.
The ROD also outlines changes to Federal Fire Management since the issuance of Grand Canyon’s FEIS/AEF. Those changes include: 1) fire terminology clarification, 2) guidance on managing unplanned fires for multiple objectives, 3) emphasis on the need for fire management planning, intergovernmental in scope and at a landscape scale, and 4) assessment of every wildfire using a decision-support process that examines the full range of potential responses. Please refer to the ROD for additional information on these changes and how they affect the terminology in the ROD and FEIS/AEF.
The FEIS/AEF described and analyzed five alternatives designed to implement NPS fire policies in Grand Canyon National Park. For the purposes of the analysis, the FEIS/AEF compared a no-action alternative, representing Grand Canyon’s existing fire management program, to four action alternatives. Each action alternative represented a separate proposal for managing hazardous fuels and restoring fire to park ecosystems and were based on a thorough consideration of the best available information on fire and its effects on park resources, park visitors, and other values at risk, such as air quality, surrounding communities, vegetation and forested habitat. When the proposed actions were evaluated, several program-specific goals were identified that included: 1) Protecting human health and safety and private and public property. 2) Restoring and maintaining park ecosystems in a natural, resilient condition. 3) Protecting the park’s natural, cultural, and social values. 4) Promoting a science-based program that relies on current and best-available information. 5) Educating, informing, consulting, and collaborating with tribes, stakeholders, and the public.
Features of the selected action (Preferred Alternative – Mixed Fire Treatment Program) include newly defined Fire Management Units, and include continued suppression, wildland fire-use, prescribed fire, and non-fire treatments with additional options of manual hazard fuel techniques, and mechanical thinning in the Wildland-Urban Interface areas. The focus of the preferred alternative was on restoring and maintaining park ecosystems with prescribed and wildland fire-use fire and reducing hazard fuels in Wildland-Urban Interface areas using prescribed fire and non-fire treatments.
Grand Canyon National Park’s Fire Management Program began in the mid-1970s when NPS fire management policy was changed to allow natural processes to occur when possible. In 1978 a Fire Management Plan was developed and approved allowing, for the first time, fire to burn under an established set of conditions. The existing Fire Management Plan, approved in 1992 and revised annually through 2009, provided the authority to use prescribed natural fire (now called wildfire managed for resource objectives), and management-ignited prescribed fire (now defined as prescribed fire) strategies to meet resource objectives. Through the FEIS/AEF the park’s Fire Management Program will continue to employ these same strategies. In addition to increased mechanical and manual thinning in the Wildland Urban Interface.
For additional information on the ROD or FEIS/AEF, please contact Chris Marks, Deputy Fire Management Officer at 928-638-7417 or by email at e-mail us.