Station 10: Wildfire
You can see the effects of wildfire on plant succession at this location. The tree canopy is more open and more brush is present. Young trees are just now beginning to grow and eventually will shade out much of the brushy understory. Fire is a natural part of the forest’s ecosystem. When small and not too hot, fire can have beneficial effects. For example, fire can return nutrients to the soilfrom plants, thin densely populated trees, rejuvenate growth of forage plants for wildlife, control infestations of insects and disease, and reduce plant material that could fuel a large, hot fire. Fire-tolerant trees, such as mature ponderosa pine, can survive repeated occurrences of low-intensity ground fires.
Aggressive fire suppression has allowed excessive plants to accumulate to dangerous levels in many forests. The potential exists for a low-intensity ground fire to become a raging inferno. Not only do they destroy valuable timber, but these fires can increase serious soil erosion by removing groundcover. Also, large, high-intensity fires that race through the forest’s crown can leave an unpleasant sight for the visitor. BLM recognizes that fire is a natural part of the forest ecosystem and can have beneficial effects, so not all fires are immediately suppressed. However, too many fires, or very hot fires can be destructive. Please be careful with your campfires and matches.