Yosemite National Park fire crews are preparing for a 20-acre prescribed fire near Crane Flat lookout along the helibase access road and Garnett Ridge Road adjacent to the Merced Grove. Depending on weather and smoke dispersion, this project is planned to start Wednesday January 20, 2021. Ignition could last four to five days with smoke lingering in the area for one to two weeks. Smoke impacts will be localized to the Crane Flat area during the day. Transient smoke will likely drift down canyon during the evening hours. This project is part of the Crane Flat Prescribed Burn, which encompasses 1,126 acres north of the Big Oak Flat Road.
Deputy Fire Management Officer Kelly Singer stated “crews will be ‘jackpotting’ [burning heavy concentration of fuel] to reduce fuel loading along the access road to the Crane Flat Helibase and Garnet Ridge. This project will provide for ease of control when other segments are burned in the future.”
Over 50 years of research has taught park managers that total suppression of all fires does not prevent large severe wildfires. This tactic actually contributes to the proliferation of large severe wildfires, allowing unnatural levels of fuel to build up and burn unpredictably. Park managers understand fires are inevitable in our fire-adapted ecosystem and working with fire is an effective way to protect our resources. Prescribed fire is an important technique used to reduce excessive vegetation build up on the landscape and reduce the potential for more severe fires.