Fire managers at Grand Canyon National Park anticipate initiating two prescribed burns on the North Rim this week as weather and fuel moisture conditions allow.
Prescribed fires play an important role in decreasing risks to life, resources, and property. Fire managers carefully plan prescribed fires, initiating them only under environmental conditions that are favorable to assuring firefighter and visitor safety and to achieving the desired objectives. Prescribed fire objectives include reducing accumulations of hazard fuels, maintaining the natural role of fire in a fire-adapted ecosystem, and protection of sensitive cultural and natural resources.
The North Rim Slopes Prescribed Fire (Slopes Rx) is located along the north boundary of Grand Canyon National Park, west of Highway 67, north of the W1 Road, and east of the W4 Road. The entire burn unit is approximately 24,500 acres in size and is comprised mostly of ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forest. Objectives of the Slopes Rx include reduction of dead and downed woody fuels by 25% and returning fire to a fire-adapted ecosystem.
Also on the North Rim will be the High Severity Edge Prescribed Fire (High Severity Edge Rx). Approximately 5,000 acres in size, the burn unit is on the Walhalla Plateau, west and south of Cape Royal Road. The area has had several previous high-severity fires. The objective of the High Severity Edge Rx is to limit high severity fire effects in forested areas adjacent to or near patches of past high severity fire areas.
Smoke from prescribed fires will be most visible during ignition operations and will likely gradually diminish after ignitions are completed. Smoke will be visible from Highway 67 as well as various locations on the North Rim and South Rim. Smoke is expected to settle in the canyon one to three days after ignition related to each prescribed burn.
Fire managers are working with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality- Smoke Management Division to reduce and mitigate potential smoke impacts.
Visitors may see fire personnel, vehicles, and air support in the vicinity when any prescribed fire is being implemented. Please drive slowly, turn your lights on, avoid stopping in areas where fire personnel are working, and follow directions of signs or fire personnel.
Plans for each burn unit contain a set of parameters which define the desired weather and fuel conditions under which a prescribed fire can be initiated. Prior to implementing the burns, fire managers will evaluate current conditions and will only begin ignition if the prescribed condition are within those parameters.
Ignition of any of these prescribed fires will be announced via Twitter @GrandCanyonNPS and on the park’s website http://www.nps.gov/grca/parkmgmt/firemanagement.htm. Status of any initiated prescribed fire can be tracked on InciWeb at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/.