For Immediate Release                               
Contact: Rebecca Paterson, Fire Communication and Education Specialist
Phone: (559) 769 5390
  Reference Number: 8550-2318

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Plan  

2023 Prescribed Burns and Fuels Reduction Projects 

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, Calif. May 15, 2023 – Fire managers at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have prepared a tentative schedule for prescribed burns and other fuels reduction projects in 2023.  

Prescribed burns are a critical part of restoring and/or maintaining healthy ecology in the fire-adapted Sierra Nevada. Areas that have been treated with prescribed burning are better protected in the event of an unplanned wildfire. In 2020 and 2021, massive wildfires killed thousands of mature giant sequoias in the parks, but areas that had been treated with prescribed fire generally fared better than those that had not, with evidence that extreme fire behavior moderated when it reached these areas. This is a strategy to protect both irreplaceable natural resources and homes and human infrastructure.  

The first planned prescribed burn of the season is the Ash Mountain Prescribed Burn, located in the foothills of Sequoia National Park. This project will reduce vegetation on a total of 35 acres with prescribed burning, and an additional 4 acres with cutting (e.g., weed whips, chainsaws). This project is planned for late June.  

The next planned prescribed burn is the Park Ridge Prescribed Burn, tentatively planned for July. Located southeast of Grant Grove Village in Kings Canyon National Park, this project will treat 560 acres with prescribed burning.  

Moving later into the season, in October the parks plan to implement the 521-acre Grant Grove Prescribed Burn in the northwestern area of Grant Grove, including around the famous General Grant Tree. The final prescribed burn that the parks hope to accomplish in 2023 is the 941-acre Deer Creek Prescribed Burn, located in the Atwell area of Sequoia National Park.  

The parks are planning to continue to thin and pile vegetation in several locations outside of designated wilderness related to the emergent need to protect giant sequoias. These include Sequoia Creek (Kings Canyon National Park, 20 acres), Atwell (Sequoia National Park, 68 acres), and Grant Grove (Kings Canyon National Park, 168 acres). Within designated wilderness, similar work is planned in Redwood Meadow Grove (Sequoia National Park, 115 acres). Work on burning all the resulting piled vegetation will be ongoing as weather conditions and staffing allow.  

“After a very wet winter, we expect that heavy fuels like downed trees will hold moisture later into the summer season than usual, but finer fuels like grasses have grown in profusion, and will dry out quickly once it gets hot,” said Leif Mathiesen, Fire Management Officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. “This year presents both an opportunity and a need to accomplish prescribed burns and other vegetation reduction projects in the parks.”  

All these timeframes are subject to change, and in some cases, contingent upon whether the parks succeed in reestablishing access to the areas in question, following major road damage sustained in storms early this year. As ignition dates approach, detailed information about each specific burn will be released.  

[SOURCE: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks]