Fire Update - October 27
Several fires remain visible throughout Yosemite National Park's wilderness. Fire Managers are working with the local Air Quality Districts and will be monitoring smoke impacts to the park and local communities.
Last weekend the system that moved through offered a respite from the smoky conditions. Yosemite is now experiencing a strong stable air mass over the area bringing warmer temperatures and lower humidity that will likely continue throughout the week. Drift smoke may flow down into the valley in the mornings which will be compounded with campfires in the valley until the morning inversion lifts.
Fires in Yosemite during 2017
12 fires that were human caused and suppressed.
22 lightning fires: 12 burned themselves out, 5 suppressed and declared out, 5 active.
Location: East of Glacier Point Road, primarily in the Illilouette Basin.
Size: 8,094 acres Cause: Lightning Containment: 85% Fuels: Red fir
Moving east deeper into the wilderness. Backing through past fire scars towards the Illilouette basin. This area has shrubs and heavier dead and down fuel which may produce moderate smoke. The trajectory of the fire will likely take it in the direction of sparser fuels and higher elevation in the coming week, which should reduce smoke production.
Visible from vistas along the Glacier Point road
Location: .75 miles east of the community of Wawona
Size: 7,564 acres Cause: Lightning Containment: 90% Fuels: Mixed conifer and red fir
Fire activity has been minimal this week. There is currently no smoke or activity where the progression halted at Johnson Creek. There is minimal activity on the eastern flank N.E. of Chilnualna Creek.
Location: N 37° 42.965' x W 119° 29.588' at approximately 7800 feet elevation
Size: 75 acres Cause: Lightning Spread Potential: Low/ Moderate
Fuels: Red fir/ Lodgepole.
Visible from the Glacier Point Road.Creeping and smoldering on the eastern edge.
Location: N 37° 49.336' x W 119° 34.720' at approximately 8154 feet elevation off Tioga road.
Size: 9 acres Cause: Lightning Spread Potential: Low
Fuels: creeping: burning in duff and dead and down in Lodgepole/Red fir
Visible burning next to the Tioga road.
Location: 37 45.3 by119 38.5 at approximately 8154 feet elevation off Tioga road.
Size: 2 Acres Cause: Lightning Spread Potential: Low
Fuels: Low brush, no active growth Strategy: Monitor
Visible from Sentinel Dome and Glacier Point
These fires are burning in designated Wilderness. Lightning ignited fires In Wilderness are often allowed to burn if they do not threaten developed areas. The Yosemite Wilderness is a fire adapted ecosystem where past fire suppression has resulted in unnaturally high fuel levels. Allowing fires to burn unimpeded produces a healthier, more diverse forest and helps reduce the severity of future fires. (L. Murphy)
Prescribed Fire Update - October 30
Yosemite National Park fire managers are planning prescribed fire in the Mariposa Grove during the window of 4-14 of November, weather conditions permitting. Rangers expect to have a few days of smoke associated with this burn.
Over 100 years of aggressive fire exclusion throughout the Sierra Nevada Range has dramatically altered forested ecosystems. Historically, natural fires burned an average of 16,000 acres annually in Yosemite and played an integral role in shaping forest structure and creating important wildlife habitat. In the absence of frequent fire, unnatural levels of forest fuel have accumulated, putting many of Yosemite’s natural and cultural values at risk. Applying fire under prescribed conditions mimics the frequent, low intensity lightning caused fires that occurred in the Sierras prior to the exclusion of fire.
The Mariposa Grove project includes two to three burn units that total under 200 acres. Fire managers want to take advantage of the Mariposa Grove closure for a major restoration project to conduct the burn, minimizing impacts to public. Burning in the Mariposa Grove is a continuous process; the targeted areas have had 1-3 prescribed fires in the past 30 years, and continued burning is required to maintain healthy forest conditions. Fire produces the optimum conditions for Giant Sequoia regeneration. Fire not only removes the accumulated layers of dead woody debris exposing nutrient rich mineral soil, but fire is needed to dry the cones and allow the seeds to shed. In addition, by reducing the number of trees and undergrowth, wildfire opens up the forest canopy and reduces shade-tolerant competition.
Additional fire management activity in Yosemite
- Fuel reduction projects include thinning and piling in the Mariposa Grove and within the community of Wawona for hazard fuel reduction.
- Pile burning throughout the park will be conducted after receiving precipitation and during permissive burn days.
- The Soupbowl prescribed burn project has been canceled.
Smoke may be present during the prescribed fire and in the Wawona area. Fire managers are working with the Mariposa County Air Pollution District (MCAPCD) to time the project to coincide with favorable weather that will facilitate good air quality, and disperse smoke into the atmosphere away from the community. Prior to ignition, smoke monitoring equipment will be installed in the community and a burn permit will be issued to the park by MCAPCD. Community members who are sensitive to smoke may want to close their windows and doors and/or consider leaving the area during active ignition of the project in order to reduce their exposure.
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