One Year After the Brian Head Fire - Restoring Public Lands2018-06-13
One year after the devastating Brian Head Fire, the community, along with the help of Southern Utah University, is working to restore the damaged lands and bring the mountain back to life.
The wildfire started on June 17, 2017, and raged across both Dixie National Forest and Bureau of Land Management areas. It burned a total of 71,673 acres before being contained almost a month later.
Dr. Jacqualine Grant, Associate Professor of Biology at Southern Utah University and award-winning experiential educator, is giving the community a chance for a meaningful summer by leading the upcoming Plants and Public Lands class.
“After a fire, getting plants back on the land is a high priority because their root systems help hold the soil and stream banks in place. Massive debris flows of soil, rocks, and trees often take place after fires because surface vegetation is burned away, which exposes the soil to erosion. Debris flows usually are a threat the first two years after a fire, and they can be triggered by as little as a third of an inch of rain falling in a 30 minute period. Flooding will be elevated for several years post-fire, but the danger posed by debris flows should begin to taper off after the 2018 monsoon season.”
Not only do native plants slow down erosion, they also provide food for wildlife and sustain pollinators such as agricultural honey bees, solitary native bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Dr. Grant’s upcoming Plants and Public Lands class is a great opportunity to learn about plants and how land is treated after wildfires. A late summer session of the course will be offered July 30 – August 3, with one in-class presentation and two field trips. Participants will learn about native plants and western fire cycles, and may have the option to participate in hands-on restoration activities or research to help learn how aspen respond to such a large fire.
“Foresters expect a flush of new aspen growth in southern Utah as a result of the Brian Head fire. If our aspen stands can grow fast enough to escape wild and domesticated ungulate grazing, southern Utah can expect to see spectacular fall color, wildlife viewing, and hunting opportunities in future years.”
As a conservation biologist, Dr. Grant’s work focuses on green infrastructure and organismal biology related to insects, mammals, and amphibians. She is familiar with the media and available for an interview. Simply visit her profile.