Post Wildfire Recovery
Most wildfires on National Wildlife Refuges cause little, if any, long-term damage. Plants usually regenerate on their own, wildlife populations thrive, and ecosystems recover naturally.
But a few wildfires may scorch the land enough so that it would not recover quickly, which could lead to further damage. In these cases, the Emergency Stabilization and Burned Area Rehabilitation programs are available to help.
For example, severe burning can lead to soil erosion or destruction of native plants, allowing invasive species to quickly take root. Emergency stabilization is the “first aid” to keep land from immediately degrading right after a wildfire, and to repair serious safety hazards. These actions might include felling burnt trees near trails or repairing guard rails that improve safety.
Burned Area Rehabilitation is the “follow-up care” to begin the healing process and improve or enhance wildlife habitat. These actions, such as replanting vegetation, may be taken for up to 3 years under the program. This might also include repair of minor infrastructure destroyed by the fire, such as wildlife viewing boardwalks or canoe camping platforms.
Refuge managers may continue to take action as part of normal operations to further restore wildlife habitat back to its desired condition.