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Lassen Park fire is being managed for resource benefits

Feather Publishing
10/3/2011

A series of thunderstorms passing through Lassen Volcanic National Park and the neighboring region produced a number of lightning strikes that ignited five small fires in the park.

Two of the fires were suppressed and one other fire went out on its own. Park staff decided to manage the remaining two fires: the Peak Fire and the Summit Fire. The Peak Fire is located at 8,330 feet in elevation on the northwest slope of Lassen Peak. Surrounded by rock and snow, it has little potential for growth.

The Summit Fire, south of Summit Lake, has crept and smoldered to over 6 acres so far.

Park staff are currently monitoring the Summit Fire and allowing it to spread and consume surface fuels and encourage growth of herbaceous plants, fostering forest health and improving wildlife habitat. “Fire is extremely important for maintaining forest health and habitat diversity,” said Superintendent Darlene M. Koontz.

Each fire was assessed for its threat to improvements and potential to meet resource objectives. “When lightning ignites fires in the park, they are evaluated as candidates to manage for benefit of the natural resources in forest ecosystems,” said Koontz. The decision criteria balance public safety with benefits to the resource. The park will allow natural fires to burn when appropriate for the restoration of fire adaptive ecosystems and for specific resource management goals.

Fire personnel from Whiskeytown National Recreation Area assisted the park with monitoring the fires. “Cooperation and collaboration with other National Park Service areas and our USFS neighbors is essential in order to accomplish our fire management goals,” added Koontz. “We will continue to manage these fires as long as necessary to meet the park’s fire management objectives while providing for public safety.”

Historically fire has routinely been suppressed in the wilderness, which has altered the ecosystem and resulted in hazardous fuel buildups. Restoring a natural fire cycle within the park by managing these fires is vital to the long-term health and preservation of these forest ecosystems.

Park staff encourages hikers to be especially careful if hiking near fire areas. Hazards may include falling snags, trees, smoke, limited visibility, rolling rocks and logs and a potential for erratic fire behavior.

When trail closures are necessary for public and firefighter safety, current information will be updated at trailheads, the visitor center and on the park’s website.

Currently, all park facilities and trails are open. For more information, contact the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center at 595-4480 daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or visit nps.gov/lavo.

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