Only a small fraction of career firefighters in the United States are women. The California Conservation Corps and the National Park Service are working together to change that with support from the National Park Foundation. In 2021, six California Conservation Corps members formed Yosemite’s first Women’s Fire Corps Crew. Crew members learned basic skills for firefighting and fire management, while connecting with mentors to prepare for future fire careers.
The Blue Jay Fire started on July 24th, 2020 and burned into winter. It was a natural ignition lightning fire that the park managed for resource objectives under a confine and contain strategy. In this video, Battalion Chief Russell Mitchell, who was the Incident Command for a long duration of this fire, explains the importance of fire on the landscape in Yosemite Wilderness ecosystems and the meaning of a confine and contain strategy.
In 1970, the NPS began to intentionally return fires to Yosemite, recognizing the traditional use of fire on the landscape and its important ecological role. Since 1970, fire managers have used fire to restore thousands of acres of forest, and continue to plan for future prescribed fires throughout large portions of the park.
The 2013 Rim Fire was, at the time, the largest forest fire in California history, and the largest fire in Yosemite history. Burning 400 square miles, the speed and size of the fire was unprecedented. As these unnaturally large fires become more commonplace due to previous fire suppression and climate change, Yosemite National Park is seeing the benefits of carefully allowing smaller, controlled fires on the landscape.
Who would have thought that giant sequoia groves need to be burned in order to be saved? Learn how early park managers discovered the importance of fire the hard way, and see how today's managers carefully manage fire in Yosemite. (26:00)