With the recent destruction from the Duck Lake Wildfire on everyone's minds, it's hard to believe that good things can come out of wildfires. Areas that have been burned by fires in recent years in Marquette County are now green and full of wildlife.
May of 1999 saw the destruction of more than 5,000 acres of forest in the Tower Lake Wildfire in western Marquette County, southeast of Champion. Thirteen years later, evidence of the blaze remains, but the environment becomes greener with each season. Pete Glover of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources remembers fighting the fire.
"At the time that the fire took place here, it was quite devastating. It was headline news, and the town of Champion was evacuated. It had a great impact on the community," said Glover, fire supervisor with the DNR.
Now the forest is fresh with aspen and birch trees more than 20 feet high. Even a dead tree can be useful to forests. Dead pine trees serve as a home for insects and a feeding ground for birds, and when the trees fall, their nutrients seep into the ground, expediting new growth. Different plants in various stages of growth tend to attract more wildlife.
"A diverse forest means a healthy forest, and although the effects of fire to humans are sometimes devastating to the environment, it can kind of reset the clock and rejuvenate the forest," Glover said.
South of Ishpeming in Ely Township, the Flat Rock wildfire burned 62 acres in May. Now the ground is covered in new ferns, with wild blueberries and mushrooms hiding underneath. Glover expects the same will happen to the forest affected by the Duck Lake Wildfire in Luce County. These pictures, courtesy of Tom Dolaskie IV, were taken recently from an area in Luce County ravaged by wildfire. There are already some signs of new growth, but it will be many years before there's more green than black.