Road to recovery from burn scars could take years

Reseeding the burn scars of the Carlton Complex Fire  PHOTO Dale Danell
Reseeding the burn scars of the Carlton Complex Fire PHOTO Dale Danell/DNR

The Carlton Complex fire last summer was especially devastating, burning thousands of acres of private, state and federal lands. To recover the homes, cattle, orchards, grazing lands, and fencing destroyed in the fire will be a herculean task that will take years of effort.

The fire’s impact affected many people in many different ways. For example, those who raise cattle and depend on those lands for their herds’ summer forage must find other grazing lands, not only for this year, but likely for several years to come.

Blue and wheat grass seed is loaded into the plane to be spread over thousands of acres. PHOTO Dan Danell
Blue and wheat grass seed is loaded into the plane to be spread over thousands of acres. PHOTO Dale Danell/DNR

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources, which had thousands of acres damaged in the fire, has sown thousands of pounds of grass seed in recent weeks. Our goal is to get new growth started quickly. After laying dormant over the winter, the seeds will be in position to start new sprouts as soon as the rising temperatures of spring melt off the snow cover. The new growth also will help to reduce sediment runoff and fend off noxious and invasive weeds from taking over these prime grazing lands.

So far, DNR has sprinkled blue and wheat grass seeds — about 130,000 pounds — on more than 9,000 acres. The re-seeding efforts are intended to restore grazing lands in several areas, including Frasier Creek, Cow Creek and French Creek. DNR is working with its more than two dozen grazing lessees and seeking grants from FEMA and other sources to help with the costs of restoring the related infrastructure, such as fencing, that was destroyed in the Carlton Complex fire.

See the related stories from the Capital Press and KREM TV News in Spokane.

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