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Contact: David Eaker, 435-772-7811
According to Superintendent Jock Whitworth, Zion National Park plans to start ignition of a portion of the 2,100 acre Three Finger Mesa Prescribed Burn Unit during the week of May 25, 2008. The exact date of the ignition will depend on weather conditions and the availability of firefighting resources. This prescribed fire project is located along the northern portion of the park boundary, in the Goose Creek Drainage, southeast of Lava Point.
The project will begin with a blacklining operation along the MIA Camp Road, followed by hand and aerial ignition of the interior portions of the unit. Once an area is ignited, it will actively burn for 1-3 days and then smolder for an extended period. The fire will be closely monitored by park personnel until declared out. Specific management goals associated with this burn are to maintain boundary protection by reducing excess hazardous fuels and to apply fire to the landscape thus maintaining the natural role fire plays in this ecosystem.
Short-term impacts will be possible smoky conditions and closure of trails in the vicinity of the burn area. Plans are for the West Rim and Wildcat Trail systems to remain open during the burn, but hikers may encounter temporary smoky conditions along the trail. Forecasted weather conditions should provide good smoke dispersal, but there is potential for it to settle into the canyons during the night.
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 park works very closely with other state and federal land management agencies in the planning and management of these fires. The policy of using fire as a tool will help decrease risks to life, property and resources; prescribed fires 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 435-772-3256 or visit our website at www.nps.gov/zion.