Burn, beetles, burn! (The bugs, not the band.)

By: Aaron Luna Email
By: Aaron Luna Email

After burning close to 3,000 acres, fire officials say the Dominguez Fire is finally settling down. They are also discovering more benefits from the blaze.

The fire started from a lightning strike more than 10 days ago leaving behind black, charred earth. "Areas that burn now might be ugly in the short term but our grandchildren will appreciate the mature trees 75 years down the line," says Bob Hammon with the CSU Tri River Area Extension. Hammon says burn benefits aren't always immediate. "A lot of the impacts are delayed for sometimes a century or more."

Officials with the US Forest Service say another positive is that the fire also burned out some insect-infested vegetation, killing off small populations of Ips Beetles. However, Hammon says the burned out beetles aren't as important as the change in the area's vegetation age. "Fire creates diversity in the habitat," says Hammon.

Soon there will be new growth made up of younger, stronger plants. Hammon says, "Bark beetles can come in and take out the mature areas while leaving the young ones." That will help avoid situations similar to the lodge pole pines destroyed by beetles in other parts of the state.

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