Grand Canyon fire officials plan four prescribed fires

GRAND CANYON-Grand Canyon National Park fire officials are planning to conduct four prescribed fires on the North and South Rims over the next several weeks if weather and forest conditions permit.

The planned Northwest, Southwest Roost and Uncle Jim prescribed fire units are located on the North Rim, and the Tusayan prescribed fire unit is on the South Rim. The following is a breakdown of the units:

· The Northwest burn unit is 3,033 acres and is located in the northwest corner of Grand Canyon National Park adjacent to the boundary of the Kaibab National Forest and approximately 14 air miles northwest of the North Rim developed area along the Swamp Ridge Road.

· The Southwest Roost unit is 2,130 acres and is located approximately nine air miles northwest of the North Rim developed area adjacent to Kanabownits Canyon and five miles north of Point Sublime.

· The Uncle Jim unit is 3,350 acres and is located approximately two air miles northeast of the North Rim developed area along Fuller Canyon.

· The Tusayan burn unit is 584 acres and is located along the east side of Highway 64 starting at the park's south boundary, adjacent to the South Entrance Station, and moving north.

Fire managers use prescribed fire to restore and sustain the fire-dependant ecosystems that surround the Grand Canyon. Benefits from these fires include reducing hazardous fuels that can lead to more intense wildfires, sustaining ecological processes like nutrient and biomass recycling, balancing plant regeneration and mortality and providing a diversity of habitats for native plants and animals.

Prescribed fires are typically ignited in the spring and fall when surface vegetation and fuels are dry enough to burn with low intensities while the underlying soils remain moist from seasonal precipitation.

Minor traffic delays are possible in the vicinity of these fires. When necessary, public safety personnel will direct traffic in these areas.

Smoke columns will be visible on days when the prescribed fires are ignited. Residual smoke impacts from the Northwest, Southwest Roost and Uncle Jim prescribed fires are anticipated to be minimal with a possibility of overnight smoke in the canyon for a few nights that should lift and dissipate as daytime temperatures rise, which usually occurs by midmorning.

The community of Tusayan, located approximately one mile south of the park boundary, could experience light to moderate smoke impacts for a few nights if the Tusayan prescribed fire takes place.

Prior to prescribed burning, Grand Canyon National Park fire managers will evaluate weather conditions and coordinate with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. If conditions do not meet predetermined standards for air quality, burns will be postponed until conditions are appropriate.

The Roosevelt Wildland Fire Use Fire continues to burn on the North Rim, seven miles east of the North Rim developed area. The Roosevelt Fire, a lightning-caused fire discovered July 19, is being allowed to burn for resource benefit. As of Sept. 3, the fire was 2,585 acres. The Cape Royal Road will be closed intermittently until further notice to allow this fire to burn.

For further information, please contact Pamela Walls, public affairs specialist at Grand Canyon National Park, at (928) 638-7958; call the park's recorded fire information message at (928) 638-7819; or go to the park's Web site at www.nps.gov/grca.

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