Wildland fire is an essential, natural process in the Alaskan boreal forest and tundra. What at first looks like devastation soon blooms into a panorama of life!
A fire of moderate severity burned in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. It killed spruce trees but after the fire black spruce cones release an abundance of seeds. Young seedling black spruce trees are likely to establish in the first five years post fire. Cottongrass blooms vibrantly one year after the fire. Shrubs like blueberries, cloudberry, and Labrador tea re-sprout vigorously too. Mosses and lichens were consumed by the fire, but new pioneer species of mosses and liverworts may establish. Over time as the spruce canopy develops, late successional mosses and lichens will re-establish. Birds and wildlife species may take advantage of young nutrient-rich cottongrass and shrubs in recently burned areas. Read on below for more detailed research.
The purpose of the National Park Service, Alaska Fire Ecology Program is to understand the ecological effects of fire on the landscape. Fire ecologists collect and analyze information about the effects of fire on vegetation, fuels, soil, and wildlife habitat and the fire behavior associated with vegetation and fuel types. The results inform fire management planning, objectives, and decisions.
Currant Creek Fire Ecology Tour
In July 2013, lightning ignited the Currant Creek Fire, which grew to nearly 1,900-acres in Lake Clark National Park & Preserve. One year later, a fire ecology crew visited the burned area to determine the fire effects on the vegetation and soils. See what they found through this interactive map tour.