Land damaged 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 recover in as few 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 burned land 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.
The American Legion of Hayward has donated over 4,000 tree seedlings for those who lost trees on their property as a result of the Germann Road Fire, according to a post on the Northern WI Wildfire Fund’s Facebook page. Many tree species are available, including walnut, hard maple, black cherry, white pine, red pine, yellow birch, plum, hazelnut, Juneberry, jack pine, and red osier.
Call 715-413-0748 if you need trees for your property. More than 4,000 trees are in cold storage now, but they must be planted soon.
If you are unable to do the actual planting yourself, volunteers can. The group is putting together teams to help plant trees.
In addition, the wildfire fund group will be selling “Fire Storm 2013” T-shirts commemorating the fire. Money raised goes to address the needs of those affected by the fire.
More information on the T-shirts and how to order them is available on Facebook at Northern WI Wildfire Fund. Orders can also be placed at Arch Heating and Cooling in Barnes.
The Superior Telegram contributed to this report. Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and online at www.wpr.org.