Huge Rim Fire Gives Opportunity to Restore Forest Differently
After fiery devastation comes rebirth, but in the case of last summer’s massive Rim Fire in California, just how that regrowth is best accomplished remains a hot topic.
Started by a hunter’s illegal fire that got out of control, the Rim Fire burned about 400 square miles (1,000 square kilometers) of forest in the Sierra Nevadas, from August 17 to October 24, 2013. Exacerbated by a heatwave and drought, the fire caused an estimated $54 million in damage and destroyed 11 homes, three commercial buildings, and 98 outbuildings, despite the efforts of 5,000 firefighters.
The blaze engulfed the backwoods of Yosemite National Park (threatening ancient sequoias) and large swaths of Stanislaus National Forest, as well as private land in Tuolumne and Mariposa counties. The fire was named for its proximity to the Rim of the World vista point in the national forest.
In September, U.S. Forest Service fire ecologist Jay Miller told the media that 60 square miles (155 square kilometers) of the fire’s path were completely charred, leaving nothing left alive. “In other words, it’s nuked,” said Miller. “If you asked most of the fire ecologists working in the Sierra Nevada, they would call this unprecedented.”
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