August 7, 2013
Contact: Mary McBurney
Contact: Jennifer Barnes
PORT ALSWORTH, Alaska – The active 1784-acre Currant Creek Fire has burned for more than a month 15 miles northeast of Port Alsworth in Lake Clark National Park. Through shared wildfire responsibilities, the National Park Service and State of Alaska Division of Forestry fire managers continue to balance the risks and benefits of the lightning-caused fire. Local residents and park visitors have endured a summer of short term risks such as smoke and diminished air quality. When taking the long view, the Currant Creek Fire will provide several benefits for resources in the area.
The fire is burning in a mosaic pattern leaving burned and unburned islands of vegetation north and east of Currant Creek. Allowing the fire to take its natural course this year will reduce the risk of possibly intense future fires in the area.
Many plants and animals thrive in the aftermath of the fire. Fire adapted spruce and birch forests that have burned will begin to regenerate soon after the fire moves through. Deciduous trees such as birch and aspen come back quickly by re-sprouting or by seed germination. Black spruce trees are partially dependent on fires to release their seeds, while white spruce takes advantage of the exposed soil after a fire. Many of the shrubs in the boreal forest (willows, blueberry, roses, and Labrador tea) will re-sprout and begin to grow in a year’s time. Plants like fireweed, horsetail and grasses will also grow in the burn site. Small mammals will find food and shelter among the nutrient rich vegetation. Larger predators like marten will feed on small mammals such as voles. Some birds will make their nests in fire-killed trees while others will make a meal of the insects that return to the burned forest. Alaskan plant and animal diversity in part results from fire occurrence on the landscape. What at first looks like devastation is soon transformed into a panorama of life.
During a Division of Forestry surveillance flight August 5, staff reported they did see a few smokes and a single tree torching on the fire’s eastern side. Interagency fire managers will periodically monitor the fire from the air until it is declared out. It does not pose a threat to life, property, natural or cultural resources at this time. Significant rain or snow will eventually extinguish the long duration blaze.
For information, map and photos visit http://www.nps.gov/lacl/parkmgmt/currentfireinfo.htm