Project Name: Kraft Springs Fire Rehabilitation IV
Location: Custer National Forest, MT
Number of Trees: 189,000
According to the US Forest Service, nine out of every 10 forest fires are preventable — meaning humans are guilty of setting our forests ablaze 90 percent of the time. What about the other 10 percent? For those, weather — lightning, that is — is often the guilty party.
The Kraft Springs Fire in Montana’s Custer National Forest was one such fire. In August 2002, lightning struck dry fuel to create a blaze that would destroy nearly 70,000 acres of Custer National Forest. To add insult to injury, this fire raged across an area of Custer still recovering from 1988’s Brewer Fire, which destroyed 58,000 acres. Seventy percent of the land burned in 1988 was burned again in 2002, leaving an ugly stain in Custer National Forest’s 1.3 million acres.
After the Kraft Springs Fire, the Forest Service determined that almost 8,000 acres of Custer did not possess an adequate enough seed supply to regenerate naturally. The Forest Service sprang to work restoring affected areas of the Sioux Ranger District in Custer National Forest, and since 2008, American Forests has partnered with the Forest Service to restore the burned acres. Upon the completion of this project in 2012, which is planting 189,000 ponderosa pines, reforestation work on this blighted landscape will finally be complete, reestablishing habitat for elk, mule and whitetail deer, goshawks and more.
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