Burn scheduled for Hetch Hetchy area

Yosemite National Park is planning a “prescribed burn” in the Hetch Hetchy area, near the O’Shaughnessy Dam, according to a National Park Service news release.

The burn will take place sometime in mid- to late March on 57 acres. The fire will last about one to two days, officials said, but the process will continue for a few more days after that.

Because of recent precipitation, fire managers must remain in the area to monitor conditions so they can begin the burn at the right time.

This month is ideal for a burn because of the minimal snowpack and lack of rain, according to the news release. Normally, the trees and other vegetation would be too wet to burn in March, officials said, but drought conditions make it a good time for such a fire this year.

In addition to optimal conditions for a controlled burn, the target area is surrounded by the Hetch Hetchy Road and areas that were burned over during the massive Rim fire, which will help with containment, according to the news release

The objective is to get rid of vegetation and fuels surrounding the buildings and other infrastructure of the O’Shaughnessy Dam. Fire personnel will protect structures and equipment from damaged and work to reduce fuels that could cause a fire to leap into taller bush and trees, the release says.

A smoke management plan has been submitted to the Tuolumne County Air Pollution District and a burn permit will be sought. At the discretion of the air pollution control district, smoke monitors may be deployed in smoke-sensitive communities for air quality purposes. Mariposa and San Joaquin County air pollution control districts have been notified of the burn.

Hetch Hetchy Road will remain open during the burn but traffic controls will be used in the area during the roadside operations. Visitors are urged to drive carefully, as firefighters, fire equipment, smoke and debris may be on the road.

The Hetch Hetchy campground will be closed for one to two days during the burn, but the Hodgdon Meadow campground will remain open.

Fire crews from other national parks, the U.S Forest Service and Yosemite National Park will be present.