Yosemite National Park, CA…Ignitions of the Mariposa Grove prescribed fire continued today with an additional 15 acres completed. Last week, 31 acres were completed in the lower grove. Fire personnel will continue working in the grove over the next several days. The Grove is currently closed to the public because of a major restoration project; burning at this time minimizes impacts to public use.
Smoke will be present during this project. Smoke, affecting health, is always a consideration in the decision to schedule prescribed fires. Community members and visitors who are sensitive to smoke may way to close their windows and doors and/or consider leaving the area during ignition of the project in order to reduce exposure.
The objective of this prescribed fire is ecosystem restoration. Historically, natural fire burned an average of 16,000 acres annually in Yosemite National Park and played an integral role in shaping Yosemite’s ecosystem. Yosemite’s Fire Management Program works to balance the protection of life, property and natural and cultural resources with the continuation of fire as a natural process. Applying fire under prescribed conditions mimics the frequent, low intensity, lightning caused fires.
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 reproduction and propagation. Fire not only removes the accumulated layers of dead woody debris, exposing nutrient rich mineral soil, but dries the cones allowing the seeds to shed. Fire also creates holes in the forest canopy, while eliminating shade tolerate competition.