Grand Teton National Park Announces Plan for Eight Fuel Reduction Burns

by Amy Myers
Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images

In order to reduce future wildfire risk, Grand Teton National Park officials have been collecting “slash piles” consisting of forest floor brush. Actually burning these piles is the final step in the thinning process.

These burnings will take place at eight locations in and around Grand Teton National Park, all of which will help prevent the spread of flames come next summer when temperatures soar and conditions are dry. Collecting, removing and burning the debris and foliage surrounding the park’s trees is a vital part of maintenance and conservation for all native plant and animal species.

“Fuel reduction includes thinning and removing lower limbs from trees and the removal of dead wood and brush from the forest floor,” the park shared in an official release. “Firefighters place the slash from fuel reduction work into tepee-shaped piles and let them cure for a year before burning them.”

The timing of these burnings is just as important as the flames, themselves. Under the wrong condition, these prescribed burns could escalate into large-scale fires.

Because of this, “Firefighters will burn these piles under low fire behavior conditions resulting from wet weather and snow accumulation. Smoke may be visible from these piles during the day of ignition and may linger in the area for a few days.”

According to the park, the prescribed burns will be taking place near the following locations:

  • Colter Bay
  • Historic Bar BC Dude Ranch
  • Beaver Creek
  • Elk Ranch
  • Kelly
  • Murie Ranch
  • Seligman South – by the south boundary at Poker Flats
  • Sky Ranch

Grand Teton National Park Has Yet to Release Dates of Future Fuel Reduction Burns

While Grand Teton National Park is certain about the locations of the eight burns, the dates for these are still up in the air. Park officials explained that the dates will largely depend on weather and environmental conditions.

“It is difficult to predict exactly when the burning will occur because reduction piles are only ignited under certain conditions, including favorable smoke dispersal and weather conditions that limit the chance of fire spread,” the release read.

As a result, Grand Teton National Park officials may not have much of a head’s-up before the time is right. That said, they’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on humidity, precipitation, wind and other factors in the coming weeks.

Of course, during these burnings, the park will support and prioritize the safety of all responding firefighters as well as surrounding members of the community.

“Fire management staff will monitor the piles to assure complete combustion and consumption of all fuels and to assess conditions for potential fire spread,” the park said. “If smoke lingers, signs will be posted along roadsides to remind drivers to use headlights for safer travel.”