Land consumed by wildfire on path to recoveryDepartment of Natural Resources officials say the ecological recovery for 7,442 acres burned in last month’s wildfire is already underway.
By: By Jessica Hamilton, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Department of Natural Resources officials say the ecological recovery for 7,442 acres burned in last month’s wildfire is already underway.
The area could be fully recovered in as little as five years. Brule forestry supervisor Jay Gallagher says that fire — although this one was manmade — is a natural process.
“Fire is a recurring thing. We’ve just controlled it since our presence here,” he said. “We don’t see near the frequency of fire, but it’s a natural component of the ecology of that landscape.”
Gallagher says the fire changed the ecology of the land but in a good way.
“What we are going to see happening — in fact it’s going on right now, we’ve had a lot of nice rain here lately — is you’ll see a lot of grasses are already growing and starting there,” he said. “So it’s not like the fire as we’ve seen over and over even in the Western fires. Yeah, its knocks and kills a lot of trees and things like that. But…there is a resurgence of other vegetation that’s there, but really has a lot greater opportunity due to the increased light and what the fire does to the soil surface.”
Gallagher says the land that was burned is called a pine barren and is considered a rarity in the U.S. He says although grass and small shrubs will be some of the first plants back, the trees won’t be too far behind.
“The Bur Oak and Northern Pine Oak — you’ll see that already sprouting here by mid-summer. You’ll already see that coming from the stems. They won’t get real big until next year, but you’re going to see these great big leaves on the stems, and they’ll only be a few feet tall but they’ll start growing right away here. The Jack Pine — you’ll hardly see them. If they even take root from the seed this year, they’re only going to be a half-inch tall. But by next year you’ll start to see some seedlings that would be a couple, three inches tall.”
Among the 7,442 acres that were burned, nearly two-thirds of that was owned by Lyme St. Croix Forest Company, followed by 315 acres of former Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant’s land; 275 acres of the Town of Gordon; 190 acres of Hartwood Forest land; 135 acres of Futurewood Company; and 2,000 acres that belonged to smaller landowners.