GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — North Zone fire managers plan to conduct a prescribed burn within the North Kaibab Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest as early as June 1, if weather, fuel moistures, air quality and smoke dispersion remain favorable for meeting both forest health and public safety goals and objectives.
Hand and aerial ignitions on the 3,764-acre unit, approximately 2 miles north of Jacob Lake, could continue for several days depending on forecasted weather, fuel conditions and resource availability. By further reducing accumulated forest fuels that exist in the area, fire managers plan to reduce surface fuel loads within the unit to approximately 5 tons per acre. Currently, fuel loading through much of the Basin Unit can be characterized as moderate with an average of 10-to-15 tons-per-acre across the entire unit, according to North Zone fuels specialist Dave Robinson.
Grand Canyon National Park fire managers — working with resources from Sedona Fire Department, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Rocky Mountain National Park, Zion National Park, and Kaibab National Forest — will continue with the Long Jim III Rx fire, adjacent to the developed area on the South Rim, east of South Entrance Road and south of Highway 64 (Desert View Drive) East.
Comprised of pinyon, juniper, and ponderosa pine, the treatment unit is 1,933 acres in size. Objectives specific to the Long Jim Rx include improving the defensible space in the wildland/urban interface (WUI) within the South Rim developed area, returning fire to a fire-adapted ecosystem, and reducing fuel loads.
Smoke from the Long Jim Rx will be most visible during ignition operations and will likely gradually diminish after ignitions are completed. Heavy smoke along Highway 64 East may impact traffic, which may require a pilot car. Please drive slowly, turn your lights on, avoid stopping in areas where fire personnel are working, and follow directions of signs and personnel.
Smoke will also be visible from various locations on the North and South rims, including Grand Canyon Village. Fire managers are working with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality-Smoke Management Division to reduce and mitigate potential smoke impacts.
During the Long Jim Rx, the Arizona Trail will be closed from Vann Drive and Highway 64 to Yaki Point Road. A detour around the fire will take Arizona Trail hikers on the Greenway west of Highway 64 to Grand Canyon Visitor Center (GCVC). At GCVC, the detour will continue .east along the Rim Trail to the South Kaibab trailhead.
Prescribed fires play an important role in decreasing risks to life, resources, and property. Fire managers carefully plan prescribed fires, initiating them only under environmental conditions that are favorable to assuring firefighter and visitor safety and to achieving the desired objectives. Prescribed fire objectives include reducing accumulations of hazard fuels, maintaining the natural role of fire in a fire-adapted ecosystem, and protection of sensitive natural and cultural resources
In the interest of both firefighter and public safety, forest and park visitors are reminded to obey all traffic signs and use caution when traveling in the vicinity of the prescribed fire as firefighters and fire-related traffic will be present, and while winds are expected to disperse the smoke to the north-northeast, motorists are cautioned to anticipate light smoke along Highway 89A throughout the day and settle into lower elevations and drainages overnight through midmorning. However, fire managers will strive to minimize smoke impacts to the community as much as possible, and will only commence ignitions when conditions exist that will allow for adequate ventilation.
As a reminder, implementation of prescribed fires is dependent on weather and fuel conditions including winds, temperature, humidity, moisture of the vegetation and ventilation conditions for dispersal of smoke, as well as prior coordination with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. For additional information on the Smoke Management Division of the ADEQ and to view prescribed burns authorized on any given day, please visit www.azdeq.gov/programs/air-quality-programs/smoke-management.
Notifications of upcoming prescribed burns are provided regularly throughout the season. More information about prescribed burns in the area can be found at: Inciweb (inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5160/); fire fnformation recorded hotline: (928) 635-831; Facebook (facebook.com/KaibabNF/); and Twitter (twitter.com/kaibabnf). those interested in receiving regular updates can also text ‘follow kaibabnf’ to 40404.