Forest fire in the US causes widespread ecological damage to the river system: survey

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A year after the most devastating wildfire in Colorado history, which burned 208,913 acres (845.4 square kilometers), biologists lamented the slow recovery of the nearby water system.

“As feared, recent surveys of the river have shown that thousands of fish were killed by the fire and its ongoing effects,” CBS 4 reported Denver on Saturday.

“The runoff events we filmed after the fire this summer had a detrimental impact on the fishery,” water biologist Kyle Battige told the Denver station.

The survey was conducted by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) a year after the Cameron Peak Fire, the worst fire ever in the state of Centennial. It also gobbled up around 461 buildings, consumed millions of dollars in resources, and took thousands of firefighters to contain it.

Despite widespread drought conditions across the western United States, Colorado saw significant rainfall this fall, and “since the rain on the Burn Scar caused flooding in Poudre Canyon this July,” resulting in multiple deaths, wildlife protection officers with CPW have been monitoring “the harmful effects of the fire on the fish in the Poudre River, ”reported CBS.

A flash flood swept through the canyon on July 26, killing three people and one missing after being washed away by floods and mudslides, according to the Colorado Public Radio website.

Battige investigated the burned area and river drainage in July, the day after the deadly flash flood, and told Kiowa County Press, “Fish loss has been observed and we will continue to monitor the situation.”

Senior CPW water biologist Jeff Spohn also told the media, “We will withhold comment on effects on fish populations until we can collect standardized data.”

The results of this week’s poll were labeled “shocking” by CBS 4.

The cause of the Cameron Peak Fire is still being investigated. It burned for 62 days starting August 13, 2020, and on October 18, it was the first wildfire in Colorado history to burn more than 200,000 acres, ”according to Inciweb, an interstate incident information system.

The fire, which was controlled on Jan. 12, 2021, destroyed a total of 461 buildings and required 549 water pumps, 110 miles of bulldozer trails and 232 miles of road works to contain the fire in northern Colorado, not far from the Wyoming border.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), two years ago the agency began new research into the effects of forest fires on water supplies, including drinking water, irrigation, fishing and recreation.

Water supplies can be compromised while a wildfire is actively burning and for years afterwards, the EPA said. can be very susceptible to forest fires depending on the conditions.

With active combustion, ash and ash-related pollutants settle on streams, lakes and water reservoirs. Vegetation that holds the soil in place and holds back water is burned away. After a major wildfire, rainstorms wash large amounts of ash, sediments, nutrients and pollutants into streams, rivers and reservoirs located downstream.

The absence of vegetation in the watershed can create conditions conducive to erosion and even flooding, and naturally occurring and anthropogenic substances can affect drinking water quality, discolor recreational waters and potentially contribute to harmful algal blooms, according to research by the EPA.

According to the latest data released by the National Interagency Fire Center, on October 20 that year a total of 47,884 wildfires occurred in the United States and burned 6,515,883 acres (26,368.8 square kilometers) of land.



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