Tuesday, May 15, 2012

YNP: Yosemite Park Prescribed burn tonight

Wawona Northwest Prescribed Fire
Scheduled for Tuesday Evening, May 15, 2012

Yosemite National Park fire managers are planning the 846 acre, Wawona Northwest Prescribed Fire, to begin on the evening of May 15, 2012.  An air quality variance has been requested for marginal air conditions for Tuesday’s ignition.  Improving air dispersion is predicted to begin Wednesday and continue through the end of the week, allowing good smoke dispersion.  Please Note – these are predictions only, and if stagnant air develops or persists over the Sierra Nevada region, fire managers will postpone the prescribed fire.   

An objective of the project is to conduct ecosystem restoration by applying fire to this fire adapted landscape. Prior to the exclusion of fire over 100 years ago, fire was a natural process that played an integral role in shaping the landscape of Yosemite each year.  Densities of shade tolerant tree species, such as white fir and incense cedar, and forest litter and duff have accumulated to unnatural and unaccepted levels in the absence of fire.  Through the application of fire, a more natural vegetation composition can be achieved that would likely support a surface fire, but less likely to support crown fire.  

Another important objective of the prescribed fire is for the direct protection to the community of Wawona from an unwanted wildfire.  This project will take advantage of the 2007 Jack Fire perimeter and reduce hazardous fuel loading in the Wawona Wildland Urban Interface area.  Burning this segment will form a barrier to the community of Wawona from the spread of unwanted wildfire approaching from Turner Ridge to the north and partially from the South Fork Merced River drainage to the northwest.   This project ties together multiple and historical research, natural and prescribed fires, and mechanical thinning.  

Community members and visitors have seen equipment and crews moving into the area as they prepare the fire perimeter for fire ignition and operations.  A test fire, blackline, will be conducted near the top of the ridge to determine if overall prescribed fire objectives can be met.  The blackline is critical to the success of the project by reducing the overall risk to firefighters for an escape along the steep, and difficult, eastern fire line.

Smoke will be present during the prescribed fire, particularly during the early morning hours.  Fire managers are working with Mariposa and Tuolumne Counties, San Joaquin Valley, and Great Basin Air Pollution Control Districts (APCDs), daily to time the project to coincide with favorable weather that will facilitate good air quality, and move and disperse smoke into the atmosphere away from the community.  A burn permit will be issued to the park by Mariposa County APCD, and air quality measuring devices are being moved to local communities.  It is suggested that community members that are sensitive to smoke close windows and doors and/or they may wish to leave the area during active ignition of the project.

This fire segment is identified in the 2004 Yosemite Fire Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement and re included in the Multi-year Strategic Fuels Management Plan.  The goals and objectives for this project conform to the park’s General Management Plan and Vegetation Management Plan.

More updates will be published through the duration of the prescribed fire project.
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