The Taft Toe Prescribed Fire was ignited Thursday morning, October 15th at about 9:00 a.m. Four years in the planning, the ignition of this 111 acre “Unit” is intended to reduce fuels in that area. It is located on the south (Taft Point) side of Southside Drive between El Capitan Bridge and the base of the Sentinel Beach picnic area. Smoke from the fire obscured the views from Tunnel View as was expected. When our tour passed by the fire that afternoon, we saw that the fire managers were doing a thorough job of igniting the fuels that had accumulated on forest floor while the gentle winds were pushing the fire slowly through the fuels, and carrying the smoke away from the road, toward the right in the picture below.
As we passed through the prescribed burn area, we could see that some of the results that were intended were being achieved. Fuels that had accumulated over many years were being consumed, lessening the chances of catastrophic future fires. In addition, many of the seedlings and saplings of the Valley’s conifers were being scorched, hopefully leaving more open future vistas of Yosemite’s spectacular scenery.
Early on Friday morning, Oct. 16th, Ken returned to the Taft Toe Prescribed Fire site to see how it was progressing. On a tour, we are not allowed to stop at Fern Spring, so he hadn’t seen that its flow has completely stopped though there is still water in its pond.
A stop at Tunnel View showed smoke lying thick in the Valley.
Walking along the road and talking with the fire crew, it was interesting to see where the fire burned around some young trees; it will be interesting to see if these young trees actually die due to this burn. Two small incense cedars are on the left, a group of ponderosa pines is to their right. While Ken was there, he heard two VERY LARGE trees crash to the forest floor, but they were out of view from the road.
Large standing trees and rotting stumps & logs were still actively burning rather fiercely.
Farther from the fire, the thick smoke results in some unique photo opportunities.