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Sherman Prescribed Burn Planned in Sequoia National Park

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avatar Sherman Prescribed Burn Planned in Sequoia National Park
July 02, 2019 11:38AM
SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. June 30, 2019 – Beginning after Fourth of July weekend, park fire crews will perform ignitions on a 245-acre prescribed burn in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park. The burn will involve 4-5 days of ignitions, which will be scheduled in July as conditions allow. Access to the General Sherman Tree will not be limited by the burn. Timing for the prescribed burn will be based on measurements of fuel moisture and weather conditions, as well as coordination with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. The Sherman Prescribed Burn unit is located roughly half of a mile northeast of the Giant Forest Museum, and consists of segments on both sides of the Generals Highway.

“During the drought, it wasn’t possible for us to consider prescribed burning in July,” says Christy Brigham, acting superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. “But following a wet winter with a lot of late-season precipitation, the right conditions can occur at this time of year. We’ve rescheduled this project multiple times over several years because conditions weren’t quite right, so if we have a chance to move forward with it this summer, it’s important that we take advantage of it. It’s also a great opportunity for our visitors to learn about fire’s role in forest health, particularly within sequoia groves.”

The parks have been performing prescribed burns in the Giant Forest area since 1979. By working with the area’s historical fire return interval, which is ten to sixteen years, the parks are ensuring a diverse mosaic of fire history, which is a natural part of the ecosystem, and makes the area less vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire. Prescribed burns also promote the regeneration of giant sequoias by creating openings in the canopy, clearing the forest floor, and opening the cones, allowing seeds to disperse.

Visitors to the area on ignition days may experience minor traffic delays related to the burn, as well as moderate smoke impacts in the Giant Forest, General Sherman Tree, and Lodgepole areas. At night, smoke may be discernible in the parks’ lower elevations and in Three Rivers, CA. Research shows that regular prescribed burns produce less smoke than wildfire in areas where fire has been excluded. Visitors can learn more about air quality and smoke by visiting http://www.airnow.gov or http://www.valleyair.org.

A few trails that enter the burn area will be closed during ignitions and the burn-down period, and will be clearly marked. Many other trails in the area that offer a comparable experience will be open without restriction. For more information on this prescribed burn, visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6245/.
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