Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
YUKON FLATS: Timely Clearing Saves Refuge Cabin from Wildfire
Alaska Region, August 25, 2004
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Yukon Flats Refuge's Canvasback Lake administrative cabin is surrounded by hundreds of thousands of acres of mature lowland white spruce, aspen, dense brush, and grass. The area was believed to have last burned in the early 1940's and as a result is subject to massive wildland fires. In September 2003, Refuge Fire Management staff cleared around this cabin to National FIREWISE standards by removing dead and downed fuels, cut grass, and thinned trees to 100' from the cabin. The area was similarly treated about ten years ago when the previous Yukon Flats Fire Management Office reached identical conclusions as to the necessity for defensible space.

Summer 2004 was a record fire season in Alaska with over 6.4 million acres burned, including over a million acres on Yukon Flats Refuge. The 70,000 acre Lower Mouth Fire threatened the Canvasback Lake cabin on August 25. Knowing of the two previous treatments, Alaska Fire Service dropped eight smokejumpers at the cabin who set up a pump and a sprinkler system and burned-out from a wet line surrounding the perimeter as the fire approached. The burn-out was successful and the wildland fire went around the perimeter with no damage to the cabin, which should be protected for years and serve as an excellent site for post-fire studies.

This report was submitted to Mary Kwart, Regional Fuels Specialist, by Sam Patton, Fire Management Officer on the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge.

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov
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