August 6, 2009
Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced today that Teton Interagency fire crews will be mowing sagebrush within 30 feet of roadsides at two locations west of Highway 26/89/191 in Grand Teton National Park. Fire crews will mow mature sagebrush along the roads to help minimize the potential impacts of wildfire to developed areas of the park and to valuable wildlife habitat. The work will be done during the first two weeks of August.
Fire crews will use a Bobcat skidsteer with a mower attachment to remove heavy sagebrush concentrations along both sides of the Airport Road and Circle EW Road. The project is designed to aid in the control of wildfires occurring in the sagebrush/bitterbrush habitat along the west side of the highway, as well as to minimize fire size and provide for safer access for fire crews in the event of a wildfire. Removing the sagebrush will convert the roadside areas to a grass and forb vegetation mix, which generally burns with less intensity and is therefore easier to control with fire engines. Treatments at each location will affect approximately 3.8 acres.
As witnessed during the 2003 Blacktail Fire, a wildfire burning across mature and dense sagebrush areas can easily cross roadways. This project will create a buffer area that can be burned out ahead of a wildfire, thereby containing it to a smaller area and increasing firefighter safety.
Crews will mow the sagebrush to match the landscape, creating a scalloped edge; this will provide for enough sage removal while still meeting project objectives.