One could understand if those living in communities near the Big Oak Flat Entrance to Yosemite National Park are a little apprehensive this week with the park's plan to start a wildfire near Crane Flat.
After all, last year's prescribed burn on Big Meadow turned into a major wildfire that started out to be a 90-acre burn but blew up to cover 7,500 acres.
Against that backdrop, Yosemite officials hope to burn 200 acres near Crane Flat this week if conditions allow. The plan is to reduce fuels near the "park boundary, the Rockefeller Grove of sugar pine trees, and structures located in the Crane Flat area."
Roadside thinning along the Big Oak Flat Road, as well as the ignition of several burn piles, has taken place over the last few years in preparation for this project. Fire engines, water tenders, and fire crews from Yosemite National Park and the U.S. Forest Service will be present during all fire activity. This will be the first prescribed fire of the 2010 fire season.
Knowing full well that area residents remember the Big Meadow Fire, park officials say they've learned lessons from that fire and have taken precautions with hopes similar mistakes don't return.
* Yosemite will improve fire plans to address specific site conditions.
* The park will consult with Regional Fire Management Staff prior to the implementation of all prescribed burns.
* The park will better record seasonal changes in fuel moisture, fire danger, fire behavior, and weather.
* Yosemite will develop a five year strategic fire program that meets workforce capabilities.
* The park will assure adequate formal training for all fire employees and management staff.
* The park will ensure sufficient communication between all park staff.