National parks fight fire with fire

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks implement a burn project that will clear forest floors of any vegetation for cut wood in order to prevent wildfires

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, CALIF. – The national forest service is getting out ahead of wildfires by conducting controlled burns at Big Stump and Lodgepole. Despite massive rain and snowfall, the forest service is attempting to burn away any fuel for wildfires this summer.

On Jan. 17, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks fire personnel were tasked with burning chopped down wood and vegetation in designated burn piles. The purpose of these operations is to clear the forest floors of wood that was cut down during a restorative thinning project last summer. This initiative will clear the forest floors and prevent more fuel for wildfires, and is expected to end in mid-February. 

The burns will be conducted across 168 acres just north of Big Stump in Grant Grove. In Lodgepole, which is located in Giant Forest, the burn project will span 41 acres, encompassing the Lodgepole picnic area and a portion of the Lodgepole employee housing area.

Together, these burn projects will reduce potential fuel for wildfires, in order to better protect giant sequoias, park developments and cultural resources in the project areas. Additionally, it will provide safer areas for firefighters to engage in any future wildfires affecting these areas, while also preparing the area for future restorative prescribed burning.

The burn piles may be visible near the entrance to Grant Grove and along Highway 180. Visitors may also see the piled in the Lodgepole area along the Generals Highway. However, the burn piles will not be at random. Instead, the parks will be scheduling the burns when air quality windows, weather and staffing levels allow it. The parks will be working with the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District to coordinate and regulate smoke contributions to the airshed.

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