Plant life emerging one year after Wood Hollow Fire

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SANPETE COUNTY, Utah -- The Wood Hollow Fire scorched tens of thousands of acres in Sanpete and Juab Counties and was one of the largest in Utah’s history, but about a year later some of the blackened areas are beginning to turn green again.

The Wood Hollow Fire began at the end of June in 2012 and destroyed nearly 50,000 acres. Mark Farmer is a habitat manager for the Department of Wildlife Resources, and he said progress has been made.

“We had a lot of things I can see in our seed mix that are coming up, it looks pretty good,” he said.

Bits of green dot the hillsides above Indianola, but it was just last year the fire burned across the landscape, killing one man and destroying dozens of homes. Mike Slater, Aquatics Program Manager, said wildlife suffered, even those living miles away.

“Dead fish, we saw fish floating and then the black water, the ash,” he said. “It was the trout that couldn't handle the event.”

More than 300,000 pounds of seeds were dropped by airplanes on more than 25,000 acres of the damaged land in October. Farmer said the sprouts are part of reclaiming the environment.

“It's a chance for us to get a blank canvass to put things in the environment that we want,” he said. “We put a lot of things in here that animals and domestic livestock use.”

Many of the new plants are non-native strains that stay greener longer into the summer months, which makes them less likely to burn. Volunteers will arrive in the area later this year to plant seedlings in order to bring back sage brush and other plants in the region.

Farmer said the long-term outlook of the area is hopeful.

“As long as we keep getting some more moisture it's going to turn out really good, and in five years this place will look fantastic,” he said.