Boundary Waters Rebounds One Summer After Massive Fire

By KBJR News 1

September 5, 2012 Updated Oct 24, 2013 at 8:41 PM CDT

Isabella Lake, MN (Northlands NewsCenter)
-- A wildland fire has transformed the landscape of a northland tourism hot spot. 93,000 acres burned last year in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The scenery has now shifted, welcoming a new group of species.

The shores of Isabella Lake saw an unusual scene one year ago. Thick smoke from the Pagami Creek fire rose above the clear water; the south end of fire saw hot flames that torched the landscape, but it's amazing the difference one year can have.

"It's just part of the natural cycle, it's part of our ecology in the boreal forest that re accruing fire has been part of the system for centuries," said Kris Reichenbach with the Superior National Forest.

The fire cleared the way for new growth. Over the summer, jack and red pine, birch, and aspen trees have popped out the nutrient rich soil, quicker than some of the fires in the Boundary Waters despite the dry summer.

"The re growth is faster than what we have seen on Cavity, which was the slowest, and Ham Lake was not far behind Pagami," said Bruce Anderson, referring to previous fires in the Boundary Waters.

It's a race for plants to populate an area after a fire rolls through and south of Isabella Lake is the orange Hawk Weed, which might look pretty to people walking by, but in reality it's invasive to the Boundary Waters.

"It can rapidly become a problem. What we have noticed through our monitoring is that invasive species, particularly the Hawk Weed, is that they do become established following a fire," said Anderson.

The Forest Service is doing its part to slow the spread of invasives even providing mats, to wipe off feet, at some trail heads.

Zach Vavricka

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