If you drive past the eastern end of Zion National Park next Monday, May 20, and see smoke billowing into the skies, don’t panic.
Park spokesman Eric Degroat says there will be fire, but it will be intentional — and for the long-term health of the sprawling southwestern Utah park’s ecosystem.
Dubbed the Clear Trap Prescribed Fire, the blaze — depending on favorable weather and fuel conditions for its exact time of ignition — will target 654 acres adjacent to the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort.
“The objectives of the prescribed fire are to provide protection for surrounding property and structures by reducing the fire hazard along the park boundary and to restore fire to its natural role in the ponderosa pine forest ecosystem,” Degroat stated.
Once set, NPS crews will monitor the fire for three to five days before extinguishing it. During the blaze, trails in the vicinity will be closed, including the East Rim Trail system from the East Entrance to the Observation Point Trail.
Degroat said closures also will include the Deertrap Mountain and Cable Mountain trails, though the Observation Point Trail is expected to remain open.
For more information about this or other prescribed fires planned for Zion National Park, call 435-772-0183 or visit the park’s web site.