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With considerable precipitation falling in the park over the past few days, fire managers have declared the end of the 2008 wildland fire season in Yosemite National Park. However, fire managers will continue to monitor weather patterns and implement prescribed burns as conditions permit.
The fire season concludes this year with a number of projects successfully completed, including those which significantly protect communities in and around Yosemite. In April, 1,124 acres were burned immediately adjacent to the community of Wawona, and in early June 50 acres were burned in the 1990 A-Rock Fire area just southwest of Foresta.
Due to large wildland fires in the central Sierra, including the Oliver Fire and the Telegraph Fire, no large wildland fire use projects were authorized in the park. All lightning strikes were monitored to ensure limited spread, or they were actively extinguished. Over thirty lightning-caused fires occurred within the park in 2008: the largest grew to 12 acres. The remaining fires were extinguished or monitored and contained at well under an acre, including the Cabin Fire which threatened a historic structure in Yosemite’s Wilderness.
Fall prescribed burning was successfully completed in several key areas around the park, including two units in Yosemite Valley. Two weeks after the Valley burns, four small contiguous units in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias totaling over 100 acres were completed. Finally, another piece of the Wawona Northwest project was recently completed. This unit, some 600 acres in size, was contained by the Jack Fire to the north and this spring's burn to the south. Starting at the head of the Mosquito Creek drainage, firefighters brought the prescribed fire down to a safe anchor along the Wawona Road, previously prepared through roadside thinning and burning from recent years.
In addition to the prescribed fire treatments above, several hundred acres of mastication, pile burning and other clearing were completed, mostly in our six designated wildland urban interface areas. The community of Yosemite West conducted nearly one hundred acres of fuel reduction on private land through a grant from the California Fire Safe Council, funded and facilitated by the National Park Service. The Mariposa County Board of Supervisors approved this for completion as part of Yosemite West’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). A nearly quarter-million dollar appropriation was awarded to Central Valley Forestry for several hundred acres of fuel reduction around Foresta and Wawona, which is set to begin soon and continue through the winter.
Yosemite’s fire personnel also responded to and suppressed two significant structure fires, including one which destroyed the historic El Portal Market.