Winter Pile Burning Beginning in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite, CA…Yosemite National Park will begin winter pile burning once conditions are favorable, after a significant cooling trend and an increase in precipitation occurs over the area.  Pile burning is an efficient and effective tool for reducing excessive fuel build up on the landscape. These piles are remnants of mechanical thinning from forestry operations and large scale landscape restoration projects throughout the park. These vegetation projects focus on meadow restoration, fuel reduction to restore native black oak savanna, fuel reduction in the wildland urban interface around residence and cultural resources, and piles leftover from burn area recovery efforts near the Ferguson Fire footprint.
Priority areas are: Yosemite Valley, the community of Wawona, and piles along the Wawona Road (Highway 41). Community woodlot piles will also be included, these large piles will require more precipitation and have a much longer burn down time. Smoke from the woodlot piles will remain until piles are out.
Burn piles are kept small in size to reduce the burn area footprint and prevent soil sterilization. The location of burned piles also increases wildlife foraging areas in the forest.
Smoke will be present during pile burning operations. However, smoke produced during a pile burning is significantly less than if an unwanted wildfire occurs.
Smoke will be present during pile burning. Fire managers work closely with the Mariposa County Air Pollution Control District to time the projects to coincide with favorable weather and smoke dispersion conditions. Smoke, affecting health, is always a consideration in the decision to schedule pile burning. However smoke from prescribed fire is significantly less than smoke from a long duration wildfire.
Please use caution while traveling in these areas and make sure to look for signs on the roadways that say “Prescribed Fire Do Not Report”, this usually means crews are working close to the roads.
NPS Photo: Pile near the Wawona Road (Highway 41)
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