Over the last few days we have looked at the Gilead Fire and some of the contributing factors that made suppression of the fire difficult. Suppression was the top priority from the beginning, but conditions and and human safety were major factors in all decisions relating to the fire.
Today we will look at the future of the area and what we can expect to see in the coming years after the fire.
District Ranger Mark Booth said although a fire like the Gilead can be devastating to an area, it is a natural occurrence and there are some benefits of fire in the forest ecosystem. That said, this summer's policy from the regional forester to all ranger districts was to “put them all out.” This was not the year, with the conditions as they were, to allow any fire to burn if it could be suppressed.
Booth said as devastating as the fire appeared, some good news came out of the situation.
There are some cleared safety zones that can be used as staging areas should they be needed in the future.
Also, through technology, they were able to determine the severity of the fire was not bad in most areas. Booth said there will be new life there in the spring.
In the end, he said, the fire will be beneficial to the ecosystem.
Resource Staff Officer Bernie Bernong with the BHNF, said hydrologists, fish biologists and aquatics personnel studied the burn area and their opinion is that the burn wasn't severe enough to warrant action to prevent erosion issues or water quality issues, other than standard precautions used with any fire. He did say monitoring will continue to prevent any future problems.
The fire will also give all entities involved a chance to review what was learned and how to improve in the future, to reassess WUI protections and discover how to manage the entire forest with an integrated approach to mitigation, they said.
Booth said in summary that a wildfire is a tragic event but that he was pleased with the unified command on the fire and the fact that 44,000 man hours were spent on the fire with no serious accidents or injuries, and that is a positive message he wanted to share.