Prescribed Burn- PW-WA Studhorse Unit (Segments ST-01 to ST-05)

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The National Park Service is proposing to initiate prescribed burns as early as spring 2021 near the Wawona Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) area. The proposed burn would cover an area of approximately 260 acres of the park within five segments of the PW-WA Studhorse burn unit (ST-01, ST-02, ST-03, ST-04, and ST-05) just south of the core Wawona WUI in Yosemite National Park. This project will build on past prescribed fire activities and recent thinning and pile burning work in the area with the goal of reducing fuel loading within the Wawona inner/outer WUI buffer. This work will be performed consistent with the objectives and techniques outlined in the 2004 Yosemite Fire Management Plan (FMP) and 2017 amendment.

Wawona Road will be used as the southern holding line and a pack trail will be used as the northern holding line. Another pack trail will be used to hold fire between the southern segments (ST-01, ST-02, ST-03, and ST-04) and ST-05 if needed. These pack trails will be cleared of brush and hazard trees to ensure proper holding. A light scraping of duff may be necessary to expose soil on the pack trail as part of line preparation as well. Hazard tree removal and some brushing along the road corridor may be necessary along Wawona Road. Line preparation is expected to require minimal disturbance and will occur along trails and roadways that are previously disturbed and currently in use.

The burn will be conducted along holding lines by hand ignition using drip torches. Helicopters or UAVs may be used to assist with igniting the burn if needed. Mop-up of hotspots along holding lines will be accomplished using water and hand tools. Some ground disturbance is expected associated with the clearing of brush, snags, and duff along the pack trails and holding lines. If additional control lines are deemed necessary to facilitate safe burning and to protect resources, they will be reviewed by an interdisciplinary team and approved by the deciding official prior to implementation. The interdisciplinary team is made up of NPS fire staff as well as cultural and natural resources staff (including archeologists, historians, and cultural anthropologists/tribal liaisons). Avoidance of cultural sites will be necessary and additional survey may be needed. All recommendations for cultural resource preparations listed will be completed prior to ignition.

The PW-WA Studhorse Unit has a long history of prescribed fire, with all five segments having been burned numerous times over the last 50 years. All five units first saw prescribed fire in 1970, with an additional prescribed fire for ST-01, ST-02, ST-03, and ST-04 in 1971. Those units (ST-01 through ST-04) were also burned in 1985 and again between 1993 and 1994. All five units were most recently burned over the 2002-2003 season