Fire managers from the Williams Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest plan to begin burning up to 1,500 acres today in Government Prairie, located about three miles north of Parks. The block is part of a 9,000-acre prescribed burn project, the goal of which is grassland maintenance.
“The goal of the prescribed burning is to maintain the area as a grassland,” said Joe Reinarz, fire management officer for the Williams and Tusayan ranger districts of the Kaibab National Forest. “Without intermittent burning, ponderosa pines would continue their encroachment, and we could lose the area’s grassland qualities.”
Besides helping to maintain the area as a grassland, the prescribed burning also reduces the accumulation of fuels on the ground and helps to rejuvenate native plants by releasing nutrients from the grasses and other forest materials.
If weather conditions are favorable for burning and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality provides approval, ignition will begin this morning and will potentially continue through the end of the week. Residents in and around Parks will likely see and smell smoke while the prescribed burn is taking place. Bellemont, Camp Navajo and Interstate 40 may also be affected by smoke.
Most of the 9,000-acre project area has been burned before. The blocks in the grassland are on a five-year rotation for prescribed burning in order to invigorate plant species and reduce invasion by ponderosa pines.
For more information, please contact Jackie Denk at 635-5607.