Sunday, Aug 6, 2006
Depending on weather and fuel conditions, park management will implement a meadow prescribed fire within the next few days. The less than 50 acre area is located in the southwest corner of the monument. Ignition is scheduled to be completed within one day, with mop-up and monitoring to follow for several additional days.
During the prescribed fire, moderate smoke volume and decreased visibility may occur on the main park road. Park personnel will control traffic if visibility poses a safety problem for road traffic. Temporary closure of portions of the park roads and trails is possible.
The meadow prescribed fire is the beginning of a 2006-2011 restoration plan to restore the monumentâs southwest meadows to native grasses. Currently, most of the meadows ground cover is the exotic invasive kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and smooth brome (Bromus inermis). The multi-year restoration plan, including the use of herbicide, tilling, seeding and haying, will be implemented with assistance from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.
Portions of the monument are burned most years, to simulate natural fires. Prescribed fires maintain the balance between forest and prairie and remove the build-up of dead fuels, lessening the chance of a catastrophic wildfire. The goals of the southwest prescribed fire are to reduce the amount of fuels that would burn if an uncontrolled wildfire spread through the area, to increase native plant cover and to reduce the occurrence of non-native perennial grasses.
Unlike wildfires, prescribed fires are carefully planned for and conducted within an approved boundary and weather conditions prescription. Prior to ignition, fire professionals reinforce the areaâs boundary through fuel reduction and water hose lays. During ignition and holding, the boundary is patrolled in order to prevent escape. Factors such as humidity, fuel moisture, wind speed and direction, and short and long range weather patterns are all considered in establishing the acceptable conditions for conducting a prescribed fire. If the prescribed set of conditions does not exist on a specific day, the planned prescribed fire will be postponed.
Anyone who has questions or would like to be notified the day before the prescribed fire is scheduled should contact Jim Cheatham, Chief of Resource Management, at (307) 467-5283 extension 212, or Jim_Cheatham@nps.gov.
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