Recent wet weather has enabled fire managers to go forward with spring burning plans in the park and on the National Forest.
At an open house last Wednesday, officials provided information on the burns, as well as on the park's emergency communications and evacuation plans (see story, Page 3B).
According to park Deputy Fire Management Officer Craig Letz, four burns are possible this spring two on the South Rim and two on the North Rim. One of the South Rim burns could be ignited as early as this week if conditions are right.
"It depends which one is in prescription first," he said.
According to Dave Mills, Assistant Fire Management Officer for the Tusayan Ranger District, the wet March opened a small window of opportunity for at least the 750-acre Scott burn near Grandview Lookout.
He said, it will be the only burn they will get to this spring, and that, barring more rain, forest closures are still likely.
"It's pretty good out there now, but we've had such a dry winter that a few days of wind and high temperatures will dry out the grasses from last year," he said. "We have more grass cured this year and because of the lack of snow, the grass is still standing."
Fire managers consider factors such as wind, temperature and relative humidity when determining whether to burn or to allow a naturally-sparked fire burn as a wildland use fire.
On the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest, fire managers used the long fire season to burn more than 700 acres that were targeted for spring.
In 2005, park fire managers were able to treat 8,906 acres. Last year and in 2003, they received the Intermountain Region's Paul Gleason Memorial Keeper of the Flame Award for excellence in prescribed and wildland use fire.
For more information on fire at Grand Canyon, call 638-7819 or visit www.nps.gov/grca/.
For more information on fire on the National Forest, call 638-2443.
Park Service burns
Long Jim II 1,656 acres: located two miles southwest of the Village area, in previously untreated ponderosa and pinion-juniper habitat.
Shoshone 1,031 acres: located about three miles east of the Village area and just south of Yaki Point, in ponderosa and pinion-juniper habitat. This is a second-entry burn. The area was previously treated in 1999.
Bright Angel up to 100 acres: a series of small burns throughout the North Rim developed area, in ponderosa pine habitat.
Northwest 2,800 acres: located about 12 miles northwest of the North Rim developed area, combining first and second entry burns in ponderosa pine and mixed conifer habitat.
National Forest burns:
Scott up to 750 acres: located south of the park, two miles southwest of Grandview Lookout. Fire managers ignited this burn last week and plan to wrap it up by the end of this month.
Tusayan South 700 acres: located south of the airport. This is a continuation of the work that was done around Ten-X and the airport last fall and early winter.
Tusayan East 900 acres: located northeast of the park.
Topeka 1,800 acres: located along the park's southern boundary, this burn unit contains research plots containing different treatments.