Outdoors

Impact of fires on wildlife won't be known until spring

A before-after photo at Naneum Lake near Ellensburg hints at the impact of the Table Mountain Fire, which spread over thousands of acres along with other fires in the Ellensburg-Leavenworth-Wenatchee area ignited by lightning storms around Sept. 9, 2012.
 (Mike Williams / Washington Department of Natural Resources)
A before-after photo at Naneum Lake near Ellensburg hints at the impact of the Table Mountain Fire, which spread over thousands of acres along with other fires in the Ellensburg-Leavenworth-Wenatchee area ignited by lightning storms around Sept. 9, 2012. (Mike Williams / Washington Department of Natural Resources)

WILDLIFE LANDS — Wild fires continue to char and in some cases nuke forests and other wildlife habitat in scattered areas around the Inland Northwest.  But the future isn't all black.

Before-after-photos at Naneum Lake (above) hint at the impact of the Table Mountain Fire, which has spread over thousands of acres along with other forest fires in the Ellensburg-Leavenworth-Wenatchee area. The fires were ignited by lightning storms around Sept. 9, 2012.

Some areas have been reopened to public access, but hunters need to check ahead with the Forest Service, DNR and Washington Fish and Wildlife Department for closures to distinct areas in the Wenatchee region.

This photo comparison doesn't look good, but Washington Fish and Wildlife experts say the damage/benefits to the Colockum elk herd won't be known until next spring when they can assess the ratio of hot-burned areas with the areas that  were lightly burned or skipped-over by the flames.

The fires ultimately will be good for wildlife.

The question is whether the recovery will be measured in years or decades.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

By Rich Landers richl@spokesman.com (509) 459-5508


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