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Prescribed Burns Planned at Pinnacles for June and in Fall

Fire Management staff at Pinnacles National Monument plan to burn 10 acres in the previously burned Entrance Meadow the week of June 13 and an additional 5 acres in McCabe Canyon later this fall, if weather conditions allow. No road or trail closures are anticipated, however, please use extra caution when driving or hiking if smoke is present. Appropriate wind, temperature, relative humidity, and atmospheric pressure will ensure safe and effective prescribed fire operations with good smoke dispersion. The 2 areas to be burned are along Highway 146 inside of the park’s east boundary.

The Entrance Meadow burn is to control yellow star thistle, an invasive, non-native plant. Timing will be dependent on plant flowering, to kill the plants before new seeds are produced. About 12 million acres in California are invaded with this aggressive weed. Three consecutive years of burning, in combination with other integrated plant management techniques, can effectively control yellow star-thistle. Prescribed fire can treat large areas quickly. Burning at the right time of year will greatly reduce the number of seeds that the plants will be able to produce. Fire also recycles nutrients back into the soil, and burns off dead mulch which stimulates the growth of native plants such as lupine, California poppies and perennial grasses.

The 5 acre McCabe Canyon burn later this fall will stimulate the healthy growth of deer grass stands which are naturally and culturally significant to the park and local Native American tribes.

Safety is the foremost objective in all fire management activities. Prescribed fire is only conducted when the windspeed is low and the air is not too dry. Weather readings will be taken every hour or more during the burn. If an unforcasted weather event creates unfavorable conditions, the burn will be shut down. Extra firefighters and engines will also be on hand as an added precaution.

Burning requires approval from the air quality district to prevent any major smoke impacts on the airshed. Smoke particles may settle with cool air at night and create a trace of haze the morning after burning. If this happens, it will lift as the day warms.

To receive an email when the burn day is confirmed, contact the park at 831-389-4486 x222 or email Denise Louie.

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