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of tree survival after fire. “Ponderosa pine and conifers have a lot of adaptations to survive fire in their healthy natural state,” Rocca said. “If the stands are not too thick and the undergrowth is cleared, it is not unusual for pine stands to survive fire and thrive afterwards.” Rocca said natural rehabilitation of the landscape after fire is usually first seen in the undergrowth. “The ground layer will probably come back quickly in most cases,” she said. “In the piñon-juniper a lot of resprouting shrubs will come up. In a place that has big, large trees that are well spaced, you could see very little evidence of the fire in a year or two. The understory will come back and the trees are still there. Overall, in most landscapes you are talking about very quick regrowth of the understory, but slow regrowth of trees in the natural environment.” AIDED RECOVERY Though woodlands have their own path to recovery post wildfire, efforts made by federal and state agencies and private landowners can support natural regrowth and aid in mitigating human impacts to the landscape during the fire fight. At a community meeting in Mancos Monday night, representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado State Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service gathered with roughly 100 community members to discuss proactive steps toward healing the Weber Fire landscape. “We want to talk about rehabilitation and what the next phase is after the fire is controlled and contained,” said Ivan Messinger, a wildlife biologist with the Dolores Ranger District and one of two resource advisors


A whirlwind picks up ashes and twirls skywards on top of Weber Canyon. Unstable ashes could become a problem when rain falls. assigned to the Weber Fire. “Rehabilitation is a process, and we want to let you know what the agency is doing on federal lands, what the state is going to cooperate with on state lands and what programs are available to help private landowners.” In total, the Weber Fire impacted 7,435 acres of BLM

land, 901 acres of state land, and 1,797 acres of private property. Messinger said the first step in rehabilitation is mitigation of the containment lines dug around the fires perimeter. Lines drawn by hand crews and machinery will be analyzed and addressed to be sure the ground distur-

bances will not impact water runoff and other features of the landscape. The second step is emergency stabilization and rehabilitation when the BLM will develop a rehabilitation plan

Bureau of Land Management steps in landscape rehabilitation after wildfire: ■ Suppression/Fire Line Rehabilitation — finish mop-up activities and mitigate ground disturbance caused by hand-cut or machine-drawn containment lines

■ Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation — planning for reseeding, revegetation and runoff control ■ Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) — long-term strategies and planning for vegetation development and soil stability

for reseeding, revegetation and runoff control. The final step in recovery from the federal perspective is Burned Area Emergency Response, which features long-term strategies and planning for vegetation development and soil stability. BAER teams are put together to address this final, critical component of fire recovery. State land officers will follow much of the same rehabilitation process on stateowned and managed land impacted by the local fire. “We will most likely follow through with whatever is done on the other land in the area,” said Kent Grant, a logistic forester from the Colorado State Forest Service. “There will be some real delegation efforts on the state lands.” Grant cautioned area residents to expect the landscape to “look a little rough for a while,” but at the same time, understand the natural world has a recovery process all its own. “Nature has a way of recovering, though it doesn’t always happen overnight,” Grant said. “Plants and vegetation will come. Oak brush will come. Actually, oak brush is one of those things if you try to get rid of you can’t. I’m guessing by this fall you will have sprouts of maybe a foot tall or more. That is something you can look forward to, a little green on the

slopes.” Grant also mentioned the state’s nursery, which offers expertise and trees for sale to the general public. In terms of private land rehabilitation, NRCS offers numerous resources for landowners hoping to revegetate their property and local Colorado State University extension offices have resources for landowners who need information on vegetative recovery after wildfire. “There is a lot of information out there to help you as you move forward,” Grant said. Community workshops and meetings will be planned moving forward to keep the community apprised of rehabilitation work in the area and resources available to landowners, noted Connie Clementson, BLM agency administrator for the Weber Fire. Clementson said the next steps involve healing for the area and its residents. “We want to get people thinking about the future and healing yourselves, your lives and your land,” she said. “This is about moving forward.” For more information on Weber Fire rehabilitation, contact the BLM Tres Rios field office at 882-7296 or NRCS at 565-9045. Reach Kimberly Benedict at kimberlyb@cortezjournal. com.

Weber Day5 2  
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