Fire Management Plan Update
The National Park Service is proposing to update the 2005 Fire Management Plan (FMP) for Devils Postpile National Monument to more effectively respond to the current high fuel loading conditions in the Monument and reduce the risk of a catastrophic wildfire occurring.
Twenty five years ago, the 1992 Rainbow Fire burned 82% of the monument (more than 25% experienced high severity fire). In 2011, the Devils Windstorm uprooted thousands of large diameter trees. These events, along with over a century of fire suppression, have increased fuel loading, increased cover of shrubs, decreased forest canopy and altered forest composition. The proposed FMP update would address wildfire and fuels management throughout the Monument, including strategies for the suppression of unwanted wildfires, the management of some wildfires for multiple objectives including resource benefit, and the implementation of prescribed fire and mechanical treatment projects to achieve protection and resource objectives.
The 2005 FMP does not allow for either prescribed fire or fuel treatments in the Wilderness area of the Monument or for the management of unplanned ignitions for multiple objectives, including resource benefits. During the past century, the suppression of fires in the Monument has been so successful that when wildfires do occur, such as in 1992, fire severity is higher due to the accumulation of fuels. With higher severity, more mature trees are killed, preventing or largely suppressing forest regeneration and increasing damage to soil integrity, river water quality, wildlife diversity and the public's recreational experience.
There is a need to re-establish the natural fire regime (historical average of 14-18 years between fires) throughout the Monument while at the same time, protecting visitors and facilities in the Monument, adjacent Forest Service lands and communities and resorts further to the east.
As the US Forest Service is the first responder for wildfires in Devils Postpile NM, the NPS is proposing an updated fire management strategy based on the fire management zoning used by the US Forest Service for the adjacent lands in the Inyo National Forest. The US Forest Service also provides technical and firefighter assistance to the National Park Service for fuel reduction projects in the Monument allowing for fire management planning to cross boundaries and be planned on a more landscape level scale.
Deanna Dulen, Superintendent, 760-924-5505