Forest rebirth evident in Pagami Creek Fire area, but invasive plants cause concern

Pagami Creek Fire, photo by Greg Seitz

Pagami Creek Fire, photo by Greg Seitz

A year ago this week, the largest fire in Minnesota’s recorded history burned about 93,000 acres in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Today, the forest is getting green again at a remarkable pace.

As Minnesota Public Radio’s Dan Kraker reports, forest managers are worried that invasive plants will take advantage of the burned landscape to establish a foothold. The Superior National Forest is taking steps to see that it doesn’t happen.

ISABELLA, Minn. — A year ago the Pagami Creek fire roared across a trail to the canoe landing at Isabella Lake, an entry point on the southern edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, as 40 mph wind gusts drove the blaze an unprecedented 10 miles in one day.

Last summer’s fire scorched 145 square miles of forest, mostly in the Boundary Waters area. In the fall, the burn area was filled with charcoal-black trees and soil, but tiny blades of grass had started to poke through the ash.

Today, the trees still stand like black pipes, their exposed roots clawing the ground. But the forest floor is lush and colorful, with moose maple and wild sarsaparilla.

Despite a striking amount of new growth, forest managers have major concerns, among them a huge loss of organic matter and the presence of invasive plants that already are taking root.

Continue reading…

Make sure you check out this link to see photos of the area — and especially comparison shots of the same view shortly after the fire last fall and recently, to see how things have changed in a year.

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