SNP Fire Helps Rejuvenate Plant Life

By: Mike Mueller
By: Mike Mueller

It's been an intense week but finally things are starting to wind down in the Shenandoah National Park.

With the fire 100 percent contained, park officials are breaking down their command post at the Grottoes Volunteer Fire Department. Sixty-five crew members are still on the mountain as they finish checking the area. That number will decrease throughout the week. More than 1,100 acres of land was scorched in the blaze.

When you hear about a fire scorching more than 1,100 acres of land, you would think the damage is permanent. Well it's not, and is actually part of a natural process.

It's our first look into the aftermath of the forest fire in Shenandoah National Park. But these blackened trees and singed leaves can be deceiving.

"To have a naturally started fire in a natural area with plenty of species that are dependent on fire isn't necessarily a bad thing," says Julena Campbell of the Shenandoah National Park.

"It didn't destroy anything," says Missy Forder, the park's fire effects monitor. "It actually helps it and its just a natural process that will keep occurring after time."

This time, the low burning fire is helping to clear out ground litter, releasing nutrients into the soil

"The decomposition of the leaves and everything in the soil will now be freed up and be able to uptake by the plants," says Forder.

It is similar to a process most parks practice with controlled burnings. So, what may be black now, will turn green later.

"It's still winter up here on top of the mountain, so as for as killing off any plants or anything like that it's actually kind of jump starting them and will rejuvenate them a little bit," says Campbell.

Park officials say most of the park will recover fully by the summer time, with some blackened trees as a remembrance. But even those trees are still healthy, comparing it to a human's scar on their skin.


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