Prescribed burn expected in the Sequoia foothills

Fire managers with the national parks are scheduling a prescribed burn for June 5 and 6 in the foothills of Sequoia National Park

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK – Fire season in Tulare County is not yet in full effect, but residents in the foothills might see some smoke this weekend.

Fire managers with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have scheduled the annual Ash Mountain prescribed burn for June 5 and 6. This will burn the foothills of Sequoia National Park, near the parks’ headquarters and the entrance station along the main road, Generals Highway.

Leif Mathiesen, the parks’ deputy fire management officer said the treated areas helped provide a safer area to engage and was successful last year. “This allowed fire managers to more quickly reallocate resources to portions of the fire threatening the community of Three Rivers and threatened natural and cultural resources and infrastructure inside the park. We need to continue to have that advantage in the foothill zone going forward,” Mathiesen said.

The 2022 Ash Mountain prescribed burn consists of five segments, for a total of approximately 15 acres between the Sequoia National Park entrance station and the Foothills Visitor Center, one mile inside the park. The remaining acres in the foothills are being treated manually through mowing or grazing by the parks’ stock animals.  

Visitors may see smoke, active fire and firefighters during the burn. The park is asking visitors to drive slowly and follow all firefighter instructions. Smoke impacts are expected to be minimal and short-lived, as the vegetation in the unit is chiefly fine fuels that will be consumed quickly. 

Prescribed burning in the parks’ foothills ecosystem reduces concentrations of fine fuels such as exotic grasses that aid in the rapid spread of wildfire. This is a critical factor that later in the year could limit access for first responders and hamper evacuations.

Information about this prescribed burn will be posted to the parks’ website, social media pages and Inciweb at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8129/ 

The Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ Fire Management Program has been around for over 50 years. Their mission has always been to use the full range of options and strategies available to manage fire in the parks. This includes protecting park resources, employees and the public from unwanted fire. It also includes building and maintaining fire resilient ecosystems and reducing the threat to local communities from wildfires emanating from the park or adjacent lands. Additionally recruiting, training, and retaining a professional fire management workforce is an important strategy as well.

Visitors can learn more about air quality and smoke by visiting www.fire.airnow.gov or www.valleyair.org.  

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