It’s the beginning of the prescribed fire season, something that’s being taken seriously by multiple agencies these days. And after seeing the devastation caused by the Rough Fire, and where it was stopped a mere one-eighth of a mile from the General Grant Tree, the second largest tree on the planet, due to previous prescribed fires, it’s easy to understand why.
On Monday, May 16, or as soon as weather and air quality conditions allow, Cal Fire personnel will conduct a “habitat enhancement burn” on 20 acres of grassland at Kaweah Oaks Preserve on Highway 198 north of Exeter. The project is expected to be completed in about three hours, and Kaweah Oaks Preserve will be closed to the public during that time.
Also coming up is the annual prescribed fire in the grassland around the Ash Mountain headquarters of Sequoia National Park. That project will encompass 25 acres and will occur as conditions allow within the next several weeks.
A 51-acre prescribed fire in the vicinity of the General Sherman Tree is planned for June, as is a significant 769-acre burn in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park.
No prescribed fires are planned in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks during July and August. Sequoia National Forest also has added prescribed burning to its arsenal of protecting ecosystems and communities. Much of their planned projects were actually accomplished by Mother Nature, as the lightning-caused Rough Fire burned 82,573 acres on Sequoia National Forest, which shares boundaries with Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park.
Because prescribed fire plans were stopped short in 2015 due to unfavorable conditions caused by four years of drought, as well as resources and personnel being used to fight the Rough Fire, just eight prescribed-fire projects were accomplished in Sequoia and Kings Canyon totaling 208.5 acres.