MOOSE, Wyo. — In the coming weeks, Teton Interagency Fire personnel will burn slash piles created from fuel reduction projects near Beaver Creek, Elk Ranch and other areas in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP).
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 following.
Firefighters have focused on fuel reduction efforts in developed areas, such as Beaver Creek, to reduce wildfire risk, and pile burning is the last step in this thinning. Fuel reduction includes thinning and removing lower limbs from trees and the removal of dead wood and brush from the forest floor. Firefighters place the slash from fuels reduction work into tepee-shaped piles and let them cure for a year before burning them.
Additional debris piles have been constructed around the park resulting from regular hazard tree removal and routine trail and road maintenance. One of these piles is at the Elk Ranch south of Moran. Fence removal and other regular maintenance has led to an accumulation of debris at the Elk Ranch which will be targeted for burning this fall. There may be other locations in the park as well that will be burned this fall as conditions allow.
Due to the specific conditions that need to be in place for pile burning, it is hard to predict exactly when work will begin. Fuel reduction piles are only ignited under certain conditions, including favorable smoke dispersal and weather conditions that limit the chance of fire spread. The areas will be monitored by patrols after burning is completed.
Public and firefighter safety is always the number one priority in all burn operations. Smoke from vegetation piles may be visible while piles are lit and burn down over the course of a few days. Fire management staff tend to the piles to assure complete combustion and consumption of all fuels and to monitor burning conditions for potential fire spread. Some smoke may linger in the pile area and in drainages as temperatures drop during the evening. Signs will be posted along travel routes and roadsides to remind travelers to use headlights for safe travel within areas of concern.
More information on these projects is available here.