A Chance at New Life: Post-Pagami
DULUTH - Crews and campers are starting to get their first look at areas of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area that was taken over by the Pagami Creek Wildfire last summer.
More than 90,000 acres were torched by the blaze, however, from a scientific standpoint it is considerd a positive opportunity.
"When the fire came across it was going this way," Kris Reichenbach from the Superior National Forest explained.
Eight months after the Pagami Creek Wildfire swept over northern Minnesota, forest service workers started to re–trace the track of the flames.
"The fire kind of went around and two fingers came down on both sides and that's where it came out of the wilderness," Reichenbach said.
A few miles north of Isabella, the path of the fire starts to become apparent: shades of green quickly turned to black as the dirt road got closer to the Boundary Waters.
"Historically, the Pagami Creek Wildfire was probably the largest fire we've had in the forest in 100 years," Reichenbach said.
But the fire was a natural process, similar to blazes like the Ham Lake fire that consumed 75,000 acres of Minnesota and Ontario in 2007.
"It sometimes is exciting for fire managers to watch and see because ecologically we know it is doing a lot of good things," Fire Management Officer Patty Johnson said.
Those working with the U.S. Forest Service said the fire has given a "re–start" to about one-tenth of the Wilderness area.
"The Jack Pine were starting to die out and they weren't regenerating," Johnson said.
The flames took the cover off the forest floor and heating up the pine cones, which allowed seeds to fall down and sprout.
"Fire is very good for wildlife species because it burns in a very mosaic pattern," Johnson said.
New animals, bugs and plants have started to settle in the spots where the fire once burned hot.
"Even though it was large, it still felt like it was a good thing ecologically to see the fire burn where it did," Johnson said.
The fire and regeneration is a pattern experts believe the entire forest has been touched by at least once throughout history.
But it is the first time most people will get to experience the change, and they say campers should embrace it.
"There's a chance to really see something that was a historical event," Reichenbach said.
"They're going to be able to see the topography and the geology out there that they never saw before," Johnson said. "They probably are going to see wildlife species that they never saw before."
It is a chance to see the black turn to green in front of our very own eyes.
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