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Northern Part Of Lake Christine Burn Area Sees Severe Impacts

Aug 27, 2018

White ash, like this in the northern portion of the Lake Christine Fire burn area, is an indication of high burn soil severity.
Credit U.S. Forest Service

On Monday, the U.S. Forest Service released its final analysis of the soil area that burned in the Lake Christine Fire. The impacts are most significant on the northern part of the burn area.

After wildfires, the U.S. Forest Service analyzes the damage caused to the soil; severely burned soil can lead to erosion, debris flows and flooding.

The final analysis shows that the conifer vegetation near Mill Creek and Cattle Creek held high temperatures of heat for long periods of time as the Lake Christine Fire burned, which damaged soils in the area.

Credit U.S. Forest Service

There was moderate or high burn severity on 72 percent of the northern portion of the fire. Officials warn that storms could cause flooding and mudslides near Upper Cattle Creek Road and Basalt Mountain Road.

The report includes recommendations like improving drainage on roads and trails and closing some key areas. Scientists also suggest monitoring streams and working to treat and prevent noxious weeds from taking root in the vulnerable soil.

Officials say it will take years for this portion of Basalt Mountain to fully recover from the burn, but new vegetation is already growing.

Basalt Mountain and Upper Cattle Creek Roads, and trails in that area, remain closed. There are ongoing firefighting operations and dangers from falling, dead trees. District Ranger Karen Schroyer said the Forest Service will consider reopening these roads and trails next spring.

The Lake Christine Fire has burned about 12,500 acres and is 90 percent contained. The Cache Creek and Cabin Lake Fires continue to burn in the White River National Forest as well. Rain storms in the past week have helped reduce that fire activity.