Even as Northwest firefighters battle massive blazes in Oregon and Washington, forest officials already are planning how to rehabilitate the charred landscape.
Eventually the fires will expire, though perhaps not until fall rains arrive. And blackened terrain presents more than just an ugly eyesore. Beyond esthetics, a whole new dimension of trouble lurks.
Terrain stripped of vegetation becomes vulnerable to soil erosion, especially in the spring as rain and snowmelt rinse the hillsides. The steeper the slopes, the greater the erosion.
Without vegetation, water flows unhindered into creeks and streams, clogging them with ash and dirt. Fish suffer. Flooding occurs as water charts new channels.
Scorched trees invite bug infestations. Although, some creatures can thrive in barren land, such as woodpeckers, which feed on the bugs that infest deadwood.
National Forest officials are busy making plans to restore these landscapes before winter arrives. Lumber mills can salvage burned trees, road crews can rebuild bridges and culverts, and foresters can stabilize soils and plant trees.
Read what’s being planned for the aftermath of the Canyon Creek fire in this East Oregonian article.