Phelps Moraine Prescribed Fire Slated for September 29

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Date: September 23, 2011
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3431

Teton Interagency Fire personnel will conduct an 84-acre prescribed fire on the Phelps Lake moraine just west of Death Canyon Road in Grand Teton National Park. The goal is to augment a mechanical treatment project completed in 2008. The burn is planned for September 29-October 2, conditions permitting. 

For safety reasons, the Death Canyon access road and trailhead parking area will be closed from Thursday, September 29 through Monday, October 3. The Death Canyon trail and Phelps Lake Overlook will be accessible via the Valley Trail or the  Laurance Rockefeller Preserve trail system. Please check for updates on closures and other fire news at  

Planning for a prescribed burn can take several years, and fire managers work with resource management personnel to develop and write a "prescription" that includes not only the desired treatment but also parameters for wind speed and direction, relative humidity, and fuel moisture in live and dead burnable vegetation. These plans also outline the types and numbers of resources (staff and equipment) needed to safely conduct each burn and support contingency plans. 

The primary fire management goal for Grand Teton National Park is to allow the natural process of fire to exist within the park while protecting lives and property. The intent of the Phelps Moraine prescribed fire is to reduce burnable live and dead vegetation, which should provide higher confidence and more flexibility in managing naturally ignited fires. Since 1960, eight wildfires have started in the 1,300-acre Phelps Moraine project area, but none grew larger than a tenth of an acre. Fire managers chose to aggressively suppress those fires because of the potential for them to spread toward developed areas, including private residences. 

The combined Phelps Moraine mechanical treatment project and prescribed fire will create a buffer between a wildfire and developed areas, providing agency administrators with future opportunities to allow fire to naturally affect the ecosystem.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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