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Contact: Mark Keogh, 907-822-7223
Contact: Katie Budzinski, 907-455-0650
Wrangell-St. Elias to Begin Removing Hazard Fuel from
Copper Center, Alaska— The National Park Service Eastern Area Fire Management Program will begin removing trees and brush from the vicinity of buildings and facilities in the headquarters area of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve as part of a hazard fuel treatment project. The project will create defensible space around buildings and facilities, which will provide protection for these structures in the event of a wildland fire, and provide a safer environment for employees, visitors, and firefighters. The work is being done by the National Park Service Eastern Area Alaska Fire Management crew and the Southeast Alaska Guidance Association, a service-learning organization. The project is scheduled to begin on Monday, August 30th, 2010 and is expected to be completed by Thursday, September 30th, 2010.
The Wrangell-St. Elias headquarters area is part of the wildland/urban interface, which is defined as the close proximity of buildings to environments that burn. Trees and brush growing next to structures is referred to as hazard fuel. Many buildings in Wrangell-St. Elias have been built close to the forest edge. Trees and brush are thick in some places and may touch or overhang buildings. It significantly complicates the ability of firefighters to safely control a wildland fire and protect structures.
A considerable amount of biomass (trees and brush) will be generated from the project, and the fire management staff has made arrangements to donate firewood to the Copper River Native Association. Small dead and down brush will be piled for burning at a later date.
James Savage, NPS Eastern Area Fire Management Officer states, “A lot of work has gone into preparing for this project, and I am happy to see it finally come to fruition. My hope is that Copper River residents will visit headquarters during and after the project and create defensible space around their homes too.”
Although less frequent than in the Alaskan interior, wildland fire of considerable size and intensity has occurred in Wrangell-St. Elias for thousands of years. Wildland fire in the boreal forest is a natural, reoccurring process. It is not a matter of if fires will burn, but when. In preparation for a wildland fire event, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve will create and maintain defensible space around park structures. This significantly reduces the risk of property damage in the event of a wildland fire and improves safety for employees, visitors, and fire suppression crews.For additional information on wildland fire in Wrangell-St. Elias, visit www.nps.gov/wrstor contact: Mark Keogh, Public Information Officer, 907-822-7223 or Katie Budzinski, Public Information Officer, 907-455-0650.