Calaveras Big Trees State Park to undergo controlled burn. Where to expect fire and smoke

A prescribed burn is scheduled to begin “as soon as June 12” at Calaveras Big Trees State Park, according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

The park, in Arnold, will be open during the treatment, said Amber Sprock, a spokesperson for California State Parks’ Central Valley district.

Here’s what visitors can expect, including possible traffic disruptions and why the planned burn is taking place:

What areas will be affected?

The parks department, in cooperation with Cal Fire, plans to burn up to 155 acres of Big Trees, including areas along Highway 4.

While the park will remain open during the burn, the department said visitors should expect some closures, potentially including a section of West Moran Road inside the park and one lane of traffic control on Highway 4 near the park entrance.

The treatment will begin as soon as June 12, weather permitting. If weather, air quality or vegetation conditions are not conducive for burning or smoke dispersal, the department said it will reschedule the treatment.

Arnold, Dorrington and areas including Big Trees Village, White Pines, Blue Lake Springs and Love Creek may experience smoke from the burning operations, according to a Tuesday news release.

What is a prescribed burn?

Prescribed burns, also known as planned or controlled burns, are expert applications of fire under specified weather conditions in ecosystems that depend on fire to remain healthy.

Prescribed burns are one of the tools used by the California Parks Department for vegetation management to promote new giant sequoia growth.

According to the department, forest management, in addition to these burns, helps restore and maintain the forest’s ecosystem, reduce the build-up of flammable fuels, improve wildlife habitat, restore nutrients to the soil, protect park infrastructure and reduce the chance of a catastrophic wildfire.

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