North Zone fire managers on the North Kaibab Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest and the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park have announced locations where they plan to complete prescribed fire projects starting this month and continuing through the spring of 2019. Approximately 10,000 acres could be eligible for treatment across the plateau in Fiscal Year 2019, but the implementation of each project will only occur when weather, fuel moisture, and smoke dispersal conditions are within the defined prescription parameters.
In FY18, the North Zone accomplished 40,065 acres of hazardous fuels treatments, which breaks down to 20,070 acres on the North Kaibab Ranger District and 19,995 acres on the North Rim at Grand Canyon National Park.
The role that prescribed fires play includes decreasing risks to life, resources, and property. Fire managers carefully plan prescribed fires, initiating them only under environmental conditions that are favorable to assure firefighter and visitor safety and to achieve the desired objectives.
This season’s planned treatment areas are as follows:
· Jacob Ryan North Rx - Cooper Unit: The Cooper prescribed burn unit (Cooper Rx) consists of vegetation that is predominantly Ponderosa pine, Pinyon pine, Juniper and a few scattered clumps of Aspen. The unit is approximately 910 acres and located near Jacob Lake.
· Jacob Ryan West Rx - Admin Unit: The Admin prescribed burn unit (Admin Rx) consists of vegetation that is predominantly Ponderosa pine, Juniper, and Aspen. The unit is approximately 240 acres and located near Jacob Lake.
· Jacob Ryan West Rx - Lodge Unit: The Lodge prescribed burn unit (Lodge Rx) consists of vegetation that is predominantly Ponderosa pine, Juniper, and Aspen. The unit is approximately 400 acres and located near Jacob Lake.
· Jacob Ryan West Rx - Pasture Unit: The Pasture prescribed burn unit (Pasture Rx) consists of vegetation that is predominantly Ponderosa pine, Juniper, and Aspen. The unit is approximately 2,220 acres and located near Jacob Lake.
· Moquitch 3 Unit: The Moquitch 3 prescribed burn unit (Moquitch 3 Rx) consists of vegetation that is predominantly ponderosa pine with scattered clumps of aspen and patches of New Mexico locust. The unit is approximately 1,440 acres and located about 6 miles south of Jacob Lake.
· Tipover West Unit: The Tipover West prescribed burn unit (Tipover West Rx) consists of vegetation that is predominantly Ponderosa Pine with pockets of mixed conifer and Aspen. The Tipover West Unit is a first-entry unit and is approximately 1,930 acres. The unit is located east of the Stina wildfire on the same strip of forested land along the boundary of Grand Canyon National Park and the Kaibab National Forest west of Highway 67.
· North Rim Slopes Unit: The North Rim Slopes prescribed burn unit (Slopes Rx) also consists of vegetation that is predominantly first-entry mixed conifer. Last year, fire managers treated approximately 5,214 acres within this unit. This year, pending favorable conditions, fire managers plan to target an additional 300 acres with hand ignitions only. The unit is located along the W-1 Road in Grand Canyon National Park, five miles west-northwest of the North Rim developed area.
· Bright Angel Unit: The Bright Angel prescribed burn unit (Bright Angel Rx) consists of vegetation that is predominantly ponderosa pine. Fire managers plan to treat approximately 50 acres this season.
· Dry Park Unit: The Dry Park prescribed burn unit (Dry Park Rx) also consists of vegetation that is first-entry mixed conifer and is approximately 6,750 acres. The unit is located in the vicinity of Dry Park Meadow and Dry Park Lookout Tower.
Desired Objectives: Management objectives for these North Zone prescribed burns include maintaining the natural role of fire in a fire-adapted ecosystem, reducing hazardous fuels accumulations, creating defensible space around structures in developed areas, protecting sensitive cultural and natural resources, thinning Ponderosa pine regeneration where appropriate, and stimulating Aspen regeneration where appropriate. Ultimately, the intent of these objectives is to use fire like any other tool – a tool to help foster resilient, adaptive ecosystems, to mitigate wildfire risk, to deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the public, to strengthen communities, and to connect people to the outdoors (as outlined in the USDA Forest Service Strategic Plan for FY15 through FY20).
Smoke Impacts: During and for several days following ignition, motorists are cautioned that smoke may be present on roadways in short durations. Smoke may also pool in low-lying roadways during overnight hours. Motorists are reminded to use caution, drive slowly, turn on headlights, and avoid stopping in areas where fire personnel is working. The following may be impacted by prescribed fire smoke: Jacob Lake, Highway 89A, Highway 67, DeMotte Park, and portions of the Grand Canyon including the Nankoweap area and Kwagunt Valley area and other high-use visitor areas. Smoke from the Slopes Rx may also impact both the Dragon Creek and Crystal Creek areas, and smoke from the Bright Angel Rx may also impact the Transept Canyon area. Additional smoke impacts may occur in the Marble Canyon area and as far away as Page. Smoke may also be visible as far away as Grand Canyon Village and Highway 64. Additional prescribed fire information will be available once operations are underway. For more information on local air quality resources, please visit https://www.airnow.gov/.
As a reminder, all prescribed burning is subject to approval by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and appropriate weather conditions. For additional information on the Smoke Management Division of the ADEQ and to view prescribed burns authorized on any given day, please visit http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/air/smoke/index.html.
Fire Information: Additional information will be made available through the following resources:
Kaibab National Forest Fire Information Phone Line (928) 635-8311.