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Prescribed Fire Planned for South Rim

Date:       September 28, 2011

Prescribed Fire Planned for South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon, Ariz. – Fire Mangers in Grand Canyon National Park are making
plans for the Watson Prescribed Fire (Watson Rx) on the South Rim of the
park.  Weather permitting; the Watson Rx will be initiated within the next
30 days.

The Watson Rx will include three adjacent burn units, Watsons 2, 3, and 4,
all located south of Highway 64 (also known as Desert View Drive) in the
vicinity of Grandview Point, approximately seven miles east-southeast of
Grand Canyon Village.  A total of 2,465 acres will be treated.  All three
burn units are composed of ponderosa pine with scattered pockets of
pinyon-juniper and Gambel oak which last burned in 2002 and 1995.

Ignition of the Watson Rx is expected to take place over the course of
three to five days and will be conducted in two phases.  The first phase
will be hand ignitions (blacklining operations) along Highway 64.  Once a
secure perimeter for the fire has been established near the roadway, aerial
ignition will be used to complete the ignition.

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-adapted ecosystem.
Additionally, this prescribed fire will aid in protection objectives such
as decreasing the risk of extreme fire behavior along Highway 64, one of
the park’s primary egress routes.

Like all prescribed fires, the plans for the Watson Rx contain a set of
parameters which define (among other things) the 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.
During typical prescribed fire activity, daytime smoke disperses to the
northeast, up and over the canyon.  At night, smoke would most likely
settle into the canyon and South Rim drainages, lifting out with daytime
heating.   Coordination with the Arizona Department of Environmental
Quality is already underway for this prescribed fire.

Some smoke impacts on Highway 64 should be expected during the Watson Rx,
and could lead to minor traffic delays.  If necessary, pilot cars would be
used and public safety personnel would direct traffic in areas where smoke
and fire are visible.

For more information on the Watson Rx, please contact Maureen Oltrogge,
Public Affairs Officer, at 928-638-7779.  For more on Grand Canyon’s fire
management program, please visit the park’s web site at
http://www.nps.gov/grca/parkmgmt/firemanagement.htm.

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