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Contact: Jerald Weaver, 360-378-2240, ext. 2224
Contact: Lee Taylor, 360-378-2240, ext. 2223
Contact: Mike Vouri, 360-378-2240, ext. 2227
National Park Service fire crews plan to conduct two prescribed fires on the American camp prairie between now and mid-October, weather permitting, announced Superintendent Lee Taylor.
The fires will target a half acre north of the Redoubt Road and approximately five acres south of Redoubt Road. They will restore habitat for two rare prairie species: theisland marble butterfly (Euchloe ausonides insulanus), a federal species of concern; and golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta),a threatened species.
"The island marble butterfly population is dwindling and American Camp is their final stronghold.We have to take steps now to improve and expand habitat for these creatures or they will not survive," said Taylor.Fire creates the right growing conditions for the mustard plants the butterflies depend on, she said.
No road closures are anticipated, although a few trails in the immediate vicinity of the prescribed burns may be closed for a short time during the burns.Prescribed fire and caution signs will be posted along road ways and trails near the projects.For safety, park visitors are urged not to stop along the roadway or enter the area while burning operations are being conducted.
To prepare for the burn, the fire crew will mow a buffer zone around the boundary of the intended burn area.This fire line will be wetted down prior to ignition to contain fire to the burn area.Adequate crews, equipment and water resources will be positioned to control the burn or to quickly extinguish it if necessary.
"It has been a dry summer and fires have been in the news in Washington," Taylor said. "We will only proceed with the prescribed burns once fire danger has lessened and I am certain we can contain the fire within the burn area."
Prescribed fire is one of the primary tools in the park's long-term program to reestablish portions of the diverse native grassland once found on the American Camp prairie, Taylor said.Although remnants of the native plant community exist, large areas have been invaded by non-native plants, in part as a result of farming, as well as the exclusion of fire, used by native peoples before the arrival of Europeans. Fire reduces the amount of organic material and eliminates non-native seeds, which enables native plants to hold their own against non-native species. "Reducing the fuel levels will aid in restoring desired conditions for native species like golden paintbrush," Taylor said.
The use of fire as an aid to prairie restoration is an activity identified in the park's approved fire plan. To view the plan, visit the park website at http://www.nps.gov/sajh/parkmgmt/firemanagement.htmFor questions or comments please contact Taylor at 360-378-2240 or e-mail e-mail us.