Pagami Creek Fire; A Positive Impact For Ecology

By KBJR News 1

November 10, 2011 Updated Nov 10, 2011 at 10:17 PM CDT

(Northland's NewsCenter)--The largest forest first in Minnesota since 1918 is nearing its end , but will leave behind a lasting impact.

The Pagami Creek Wildfire spread more than 92,000 acres during a two month period.

Many questioned the management of the fire but experts say it will have a positive impact on wildlife and the environment.

Fire dependent species, jack pine, aspen and birch make up the mixed boreal forest known today as the Boundary Water's Canoe Area Wilderness.

Experts say the region has traditionally seen large wildfire fire rotations of 40 to 110 years.

They say the Pagami Creek Fire should be looked at for what it is, an agent of change.

"For a lot of people, it's hard to imagine that this area is going to come back, but we have to remember that the area where it is forested and we do have mature trees," Kris Reichenbach, Public Affairs Officer with the U.S. Forest Service said. "All of that started from some kind of similar event to the fire that just happened."

Fire crews from across the country worked for nearly two months to contain the wildfire and while it continues to burn, forest officials continue to monitor the area and assess damages.

"Some of the trees are going to be continuing to live and then may die later on and as those things occur, we'll have folks in the area identify them and take them down," LaCroix District Ranger, Tim Sexton said.

Under management, the U.S. forest Service aims to let natural events take their place.

Experts say both wildlife and wilderness species will adapt to the new ecology.

"We are going to see more shrub for brows of large animals like moose and deer," Brian Jenkins, a Forest Fuels Specialist said. "Cover is going to be regenerated for feathered species. Blueberries, we'll start seeing more blueberries coming back in some of those patches that have been getting a little decadent."

"As far as re-establishing the kind of stand that was there before the fire, it kind of depends, you know what was there, how long it will be before its back to what people remember," Reichenbach said.

"I think a lot of them are going to be real pleasantly surprised how the forest responds to a fire like this," Jenkins said.

Experts say with the climate changing toward winter, they expect the fire to extinguish itself.

Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch