Fires in Yosemite Park and the Stanislaus Forest being managed as beneficial fires

Map shows how the managed South Fork Fire near Wawona has spread over weeks of burning in the wilderness of Yosemite Park

          As of August 31st, the South Fork Fire near Wawona in Yosemite Park had burned with a range of low to high severity impacts across 7,800 acres. So in 4 days, it had increased by nearly two square miles in size from the mapped area shown above on August 27th. The Park Service is managing the South Fork Fire as a natural, beneficial wildfire that is reducing many years of fuel accumulation within the Park’s wilderness lands stretching off to the east of Wawona. The managed wildfire is helping create a diverse range of conditions for the affected ecosystem.

          The north flank of the fire has spread through heavy forest fuels with some tree torching and some hot fire runs. To the east, natural barriers have slowed the fire’s spread. Fire crews have carefully contained the fire along the flank near Wawona and the Mariposa Grove.

Map of the South Fork fire near Wawona in Yosemite.

Map of the Empire Fire in Yosemite, near Bridalveil Campground.

The Empire Fire is also being managed by Yosemite Park as a beneficial wilderness wildfire

            The Empire Fire started from lightning on July 31st, and for a month it has burned in pulses and with creeping fire behavior in an area south of Bridalveil Campground. As a wilderness wildfire, it is being allowed to burn in order to reduce fuel buildup and to get a mixture of natural fire effects back into the affected forest environment.

            Travelers in the Park have an opportunity to see smoke from the Empire Fire if they drive along Glacier Point Road or stop at viewpoints. As with the South Fork Fire, Park managers are carefully monitoring smoke impacts to take steps when needed to reduce smoke by checking the fires’ spread or by using aircraft or crews to halt the fire’s spread during times of reduced air quality. The map to the left shows the Empire Fire on Aug. 27th.

The Stanislaus National Forest also is managing a wildland fire in a high elevation area

            Those traveling along the upper stretches of Highway 108 near the Clark Fork can view the spreading McCormick Fire being managed by the U.S. Forest Service. During the day time the fire looks like the photo below as it burns in fits and starts across rocky forest terrain near the Dardanelles. But at night travelers driving up towards Sonora Pass can see that the fire has spread out far broader than just the current hotter edges of the fire.

            Like the fires in Yosemite, this lightning fire is reducing years of fuel build-up and is playing a natural key role in the forest environment. CSERC strongly supports a much greater use of managed wildland fires by federal agencies so as to reduce decades of fuels that otherwise might result in severe crown fires.


The McCormick Fire is part of a complex of multiple lightning-ignited fires on the Summit Ranger District that are being managed as beneficial wildfires.

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