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PRESCRIBED BURNS

Yosemite National Park will be conducting spring prescribed fire activities to meet the 2002 management goals for wildland urban interface protection and ecosystem restoration.

In the coming months, the park plans to burn between three and seven hundred acres in four separate park areas. The park's largest burn of 7288 acres is scheduled to begin this spring in the Gin Flat area, along the Tioga Road east of the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. Prescribed burn blocks totaling 200-300 acres will be ignited south of the historic Wawona Hotel to reduce hazardous fuels adjacent to the community of Wawona near the park's south entrance. A 65 acre-prescribed fire near Hodgdon Meadow Campground will build on previous nearby fuel treatments to lessen the risk of unwanted fire to park housing and facilities. Finally, burns along Northside and Southside Drive in Yosemite Valley will continue to restore meadows and more open forest structure.

Weather permitting, all burns will likely be conducted between April 23 and July 1. During the burns, park operations will continue as usual, though foot and vehicle travel near these projects may be restricted during prescribed fire operations for safety reasons.

Prescribed fire is an important resource management tool used to maintain the meadows and open conifer forest structure that were historically created through a combination of lightning and aboriginal fire. Native Americans routinely burned in many park areas, as did frequent lightning fires spreading down from lightning strikes at higher elevations. Both of these events gave rise to healthy stands of ponderosa pine, bear clover, and other fire-adapted species. Small canopy openings and larger meadows with an open overstory exhibit a great diversity in species richness. Some of these species are adapted to fire and, in the case of Giant Sequoias, actually depend on fire to remain a healthy part of the forest ecosystem found in Yosemite National Park.

For more information on the park's burn plans and policies, contact the Yosemite National Park prescribed fire office at 209-375-9574.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

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