Phelps Moraine Prescribed Fire Scheduled

Interagency firefighters completed fuels reduction work in 2008 
 along the Death Canyon Road and the Phelps Lake moraine area

September 23, 2010
Teton Interagency fire personnel plan to implement an 84-acre prescribed fire in Grand Teton National Park near Phelps Lake moraine—in an area west of the Death Canyon Road and south of the White Grass Ranger Station—on Monday, September 27. The Phelps Moraine prescribed fire is planned to supplement a mechanical treatment project completed in 2008. Some temporary road and trail closures will be in place during the prescribed fire, including the Death Canyon Road and the Death Canyon Trail from the trailhead parking area to the Valley Trail junction. Please check for closures and updates at

Teton Interagency fire managers plan extensively for prescribed fires, and make sure conditions remain within predetermined parameters throughout the burning process. Prescribed fires are implemented only when the target fuels and weather conditions are within prescription. In addition, several firefighters, as well as engines and helicopters, are typically assigned to conduct a prescribed fire and keep it within a project area. The Phelps Moraine project lies in a shaded and damp area that needed to dry out before a prescribed fire could be effective, which led to a late September operation.

Grand Teton National Park’s primary fire management goal is to allow the natural process of fire to persist within the park while protecting lives and property. The purpose of the Phelps Moraine prescribed fire project is to reduce burnable live and dead vegetation and provide more flexibility for fire managers in responding to naturally ignited fires in the area. Since 1960, eight wildfires have started in the Phelps Moraine area, however, none grew larger than a tenth acre. Fire managers chose to aggressively suppress those wildfires because of the potential threat for spread toward developed areas, including private residences. Those suppression efforts have allowed for a change in the fuel conditions over time.

The combined benefit of the prescribed fire and the previous mechanical treatment will allow for an increase buffer between a wildfire and developed areas, providing agency administrators with opportunities to allow fire to naturally affect the ecosystem in the future.

The Death Canyon Road will close Sunday evening, September 26, at 5 p.m. The road closure will be re-evaluated on Wednesday afternoon, and the road may reopen on Thursday or Friday. For updates on the road opening, please call Traci Weaver, Teton Interagency fire information officer, at 307.739.3692.