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Contact: Denise Louie, (831)389-4486 ext 222
Fire Management staff at Pinnacles National Monument plan to burn 150 acres along the newly acquired bottomlands June 17 to 19 if weather conditions allow, and barring any unforeseen problems with equipment which would prohibit safe burning operations. If the park is unable to conduct the burns during this timeframe, we will attempt to conduct the burn the following week, June 24 to 26. Appropriate wind, temperature, relative humidity, and atmospheric pressure will ensure safe and effective prescribed fire operations with good smoke dispersion. Control lines have been established around the burn units and these will be hand ignited. The area to be burned is along Highway 146 inside of the park’s east boundary.
Approximately 35 firefighters from the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Hollister Field Office, and California Department of Forestry (CDF) San Benito- Monterey Ranger Unit will participate in the 2 to 3 days of burns. They will employ 4 engines and 1 water tender in the operation.
Safety is the foremost objective in all fire management activities. Prescribed fire is only conducted when the windspeed is low and the air is not too dry. Weather readings will be taken every hour or more during the burn. If an unforcasted weather event creates unfavorable conditions, the burn will be shut down. Extra firefighters and engines will also be on hand as an added precaution.
Burning requires approval from the air quality district to prevent any major smoke impacts on the airshed. Smoke particles may settle with cool air at night and create a trace of haze the morning after burning. If this happens, it will lift as the day warms.
The lands recently added to the east side of Pinnacles National Monument include a large infestation of non-native yellow star-thistle. About 12 million acres in California are invaded with this aggressive weed. Three consecutive years of burning, in combination with other integrated plant management techniques, can effectively control yellow star-thistle. Prescribed fire can treat large areas quickly. Burning at the right time of year will greatly reduce the number of seeds that the plants will be able to produce. Fire also recycles nutrients back into the soil, and burns off dead mulch which stimulates the growth of native plants such as lupine, California poppies and perennial grasses. Prescribed burning is just one of the weed control techniques described in the "Integrated Tools to Address Degraded Lands Environmental Assessment" which will be released early this summer.