Fires Causing Long-Term Environment Changes To Soil

Published: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - 2:48pm
Updated: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - 2:53pm

When wildfire season hits, the headlines seem to be all about evacuations and firefighters’ containment efforts and how many homes have been destroyed.

But after the fire, there are more long-term effects on our environment that we don’t always talk about.

Last summer, I went up in a helicopter to report on the effects of wildfires with the Ron Klawitter with Salt River Project, or SRP, and we flew over the area that was burned by the Dude Fire in 1990 and saw the long-lasting effects on the land there.

We saw that wildfires can affect the environment for a long time because of the way they change the soil.

So over the weekend we saw a really good example of this: firefighters battling the Burro Fire in southern Arizona got some help from monsoon rains that radar estimates wetted 80 percent of the fire.

But with that rain came flash-flooding, lightning and washed-out roads that made conditions unsafe for firefighters to continue.

Why does this happen? For more on that, and the other environmental impacts of wildfires, I got a hold of Charlie Ester, manager of Surface Water Resources at SRP.

The Forest Service has really changed their approach to this. They now really promote the use of natural fires in our forests and manage them. And the government’s Four Forest Restoration Initiative is aiming to thin and restore 1 million acres of forest in about a 2.4 million acre area stretching across the region.

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