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With at least an inch of rain falling throughout the park on Tuesday, fire managers have declared the end of the 2006 wildland fire season in Yosemite National Park. However, fire managers will continue to monitor weather patterns and implement additional prescribed fires as conditions permit.
This season, approximately 6,500 acres of wildland fire use fires were managed in Yosemite, including the Frog Complex, which burned about 6,000 acres. Wildland fire use fires are managed, lightning-ignited fires that spread naturally as long as they do not pose a threat to life or property. Due to the national shortage of wildland fire use personal and potential smoke impacts to surrounding communities, fire managers made the decision to implement containment action on several fires.
Additionally, smoke mitigation measures were taken on the Frog Complex due to community concerns about smoke impacts. The fire management team in Yosemite National Park considers smoke management at every step of the program.
Prescribed fires in Wawona, El Portal, the Mariposa Grove and Crane Flat corridor totaled approximately 500 acres. Prescribed fire is used to simulate the effects of natural lightning caused fire and reduce the potential of severe fire in developed areas and maintain a healthy and diverse ecosystem. Fire managers were limited in their ability to set prescribed fires this season due to hot, dry temperatures and by the air quality guidelines of the surrounding counties. Favorable fall conditions allowed for pile burning along the Wawona Road and the completion of important community protection projects.
14 fires were suppressed. This included four escaped campfires. These fires were of great concern to fire managers because of the hot, dry weather conditions and their close proximity to developed areas.
Decades of fire suppression have altered the natural fire regime in the park. The forests have become dense, continuous stands of shrubs and trees that are increasing the risk of uncontrollable wildland fires. The goal of Yosemite's fire management program is to restore and maintain a natural fire regime in the park. This year approximately 8,000 acres received some type of fire treatment in Yosemite National Park. Considering the difficult fire season throughout the United States, and with fire managers taking active steps to consider community needs throughout the season, fire managers are pleased with this year's accomplishments.