May 18, 2016
David Eaker, 435-772-7811
Zion National Park will be implementing a series of five small prescribed fires totaling 21 acres this spring in Zion Canyon. The locations of the burns are in the vicinity of Zion Lodge and near the main park visitor center. The first of these burns is planned on or after May 23, 2016. Exact dates of the burns will depend on predicted weather conditions, current fuel conditions and availability of resources. The primary objectives of these burns are to reduce the amount of exotic vegetation and its associated fire hazard, thus providing safety to park visitors, staff and park infrastructure, while simultaneously restoring native perennial grasses. These fires will only be ignited if favorable weather conditions exist and required firefighting personnel are available. Short-term impacts from these prescribed burns may include smoky conditions and temporary traffic and trail control measures in the vicinity of the burns.
In recent years, Zion Canyon has seen a number of exotic annual grasses (mainly cheatgrass and ripgut brome) take over and out compete the native perennial grasses that once covered the area. This spring the park received above average precipitation which caused an abundant crop of these exotics. Because these fine, flashy exotic grasses cure late in the spring, they represent a considerable fire danger throughout the summer. The reduction of these exotic grasses by prescribed fire will help to reduce the fire danger in Zion Canyon and also provide the native grasses an opportunity to re-establish themselves.
The goal of the prescribed fire program in Zion is to use management-ignited prescribed fire, where appropriate, for the restoration of fire-dependent ecosystems and species-specific resource management goals. Prescribed fire projects are to be conducted in a manner consistent with land and resource management plans, public health considerations, and approved prescribed fire plans. The policy of using fire as a tool will help decrease risks to life, property, and resources and will help perpetuate the natural resource values for which Zion National Park was established.
For more information about this or other prescribed fire projects in Zion, call 435-772-7811 or visit our website at https://www.nps.gov/zion/naturescience/fire-management-homepage.htm