Grand Canyon National Park is taking advantage of the favorable weather forecast to initiate controlled, prescribed burns at the North Rim. The “Bright Angel Prescribed Fire,” as it’s called, will occur in a 387-acre area in a ponderosa pine/mixed conifer forest just outside the archaeological areas and historical sites by the North Rim.
These controlled burns near the Grand Canyon trails help preserve the environment. If these burns do not take place, many of these areas become overwrought with dried or dead plant matter that could ignite into a wildfire due to a errant spark or intense heat of the Grand Canyon weather. These wildfires can spread and damage healthy areas of the forest. Prescribed burning curbs these dangerous wildfires from happening.
These type of wildfires also endanger the lives of the condors, elk, squirrels, mountain lions, and other animals that reside in the area. A monitored fire burns away the dead vegetation before it becomes too unruly and prevents a wildfire from engulfing the healthy habitats of animals that live in the forest. The burnt plant life can also help fertilize the ground and restore nutrients in the soil so that fresh plant life can grow.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality– Smoke Management Division will help the fire managers reduce the potential smoke impact. Smoke is expected to be seen in areas near the North and South Rim during the burning and along Highway 67. However, the smoke should diminish shortly after ignitions are completed.
During these prescribed burnings, it is important for tourists of the North Rim to be extra cautious. Drivers must be mindful of the smoke by driving slowly, turning their headlights lights on, and avoid stopping where fire personnel are working. Some roads may even be temporarily closed if the smoke impairs visibility too much. If tourists do see fire personnel, follow any signs or directions they give you. All of this is done for your safety and to preserve the nature surrounding the Grand Canyon.