Saturday, June 19, 2010

Yosemite Implements Changes Since Big Meadow Fire of 2009

     Yosemite National Park Announces Beginning of 2010 Fire Season
          Park Implements Changes Since Big Meadow Fire of 2009

Yosemite fire managers have announced the 2010 Fire Season has begun. Fire
season officially begins when seasonal firefighting equipment and personnel
are in place, prepared and ready to respond.

 Firefighters have spent the
last week conducting their annual readiness reviews that demonstrate skills
and proficiency for fighting fire.  In addition, daily weather patterns,
temperatures, and moisture levels are closely monitored, which aids in
determining if vegetation is within prescription for burning.

Yosemite National Park will begin implementing the prescribed burn program
for the 2010 season.  This will be the first fire season since the escaped
Big Meadow Fire of August 2009.  The prescribed burn escaped and eventually
burned approximately 7,500 acres.  No structures or personnel were lost in
the escaped fire, however, several roads and campgrounds were closed due to
safety concerns.

After full containment of the Big Meadow fire in September, fire officials
from the Pacific West Regional Office for the National Park Service
performed a comprehensive fire review.  The purposes of the review were to
examine the causes of the escaped prescribed burn and help the park
minimize potential escaped fires in the future.  The Big Meadow Prescribed
Fire Review identified lessons learned, as well as methods for supporting
the lessons.   
Lessons learned and future action items include:
  •      Yosemite will improve fire plans to address specific site conditions.
  •      The park will consult with Regional Fire Management Staff prior to
  •      the implementation of all prescribed burns.
  •      The park will better record seasonal changes in fuel moisture, fire
  •      danger, fire behavior, and weather.
  •      Yosemite will develop a five year strategic fire program that meets
  •      workforce capabilities.
  •      The park will assure adequate formal training for all fire employees
  •      and management staff.
  •      The park will ensure sufficient communication between all park staff.

There are currently several proposed prescribed burns located in the
western portion of the park near Crane Flat.  The purpose of these
prescribed burns is to reduce hazardous fuels near the park boundary,
protect the Rockefeller Grove of sugar pine trees, and protect the Crane
Flat area.  The area was last treated by logging and mechanical thinning in
the 1920’s.  Site preparation is underway, however the specific dates for
the prescribed burn have not been established.

Yosemite National Park officials are committed to ensuring sufficient fire
crews will be onsite during all prescribed burn activity.  These resources
will monitor fire behavior and weather, as well as support burnout and
holding operations to ensure firefighter safety, public safety, and to
prevent prescribed fire escape.

Yosemite News Release
June 18, 2010
Media Contacts:

Scott Gediman 209-372-0248
Kari Cobb 209-372-0529

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.

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