GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Grand Canyon National Park fire managers plan to conduct a prescribed fire on the South Rim within the next several weeks if weather and forest conditions permit.
The prescribed burn will include three burn units; the Hance, Watson 1, and Hearst prescribed fire units located south of Highway 64 near Grandview Point about nine miles southeast of Grand Canyon Village. Approximately 550 acres will be treated. Ignitions are anticipated to last one to two days, with several days of residual smoke to follow.
Portions of these burn units, and the surrounding areas burned last year during the Ruby Fire on the Kaibab National Forest (to the west and south) and the Game Reserve Fire within Grand Canyon National Park (to the north and east). The Watson 1 burn unit includes 235 unburned acres within the 365 acre unit. The Hance burn unit includes 272 unburned acres within the 342 acre unit. The Watson 1 and Hance burn units last burned in 2002. The Hearst Tank burn unit includes 44 unburned acres within the 933 acre unit. All three burn units contain ponderosa pine and pinyon/juniper stands as well as grass and brush.
Prescribed fires play an important role in decreasing risks to life, resources, and property by reducing accumulations of forest fuels and maintaining the natural role of fire in a fire-dependent ecosystem. Like all prescribed fires, the plan for the Hance/Watson 1/Hearst Tank Fire contains a set of parameters that define (amongst other things) the wind, humidity, temperature, expected weather and fuel conditions under which the fire can be initiated. Prior to implementing the burn, fire managers will evaluate current conditions and will only ignite the fire if all of the prescribed conditions are within those parameters.
Smoke is projected to disperse to the northeast and will likely settle into the Canyon at night, beginning to lift out with daytime heating by late morning. Coordination with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is already underway.
Minor traffic delays are possible in the vicinity of the fire. When necessary, public safety personnel will direct traffic in these areas.
For more information on plans for South Rim prescribed fires, please call Public Affairs Specialist Shannan Marcak at (928) 638-7958. To learn more about fire management in Grand Canyon National Park, visit the park's website at www.nps.gov/grca/parkmgmt/firemanagment.htm.