Reseeding helps crews battle Black Mountain wildfire

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CEDAR CITY, Utah – Bureau of Land Management managers in Cedar City say they got some help from the past fighting the Black Mountain wildfire earlier this month.

Lightning sparked the 4,500-acre fire on July 2. Firefighters contained the fire quickly because of reseeding efforts from a wildfire more than a decade ago.

“The head of the fire actually slammed right into the reseeding of the 2002 Maple Springs fire,” says BLM Fire Mitigation Specialist Nick Howell. “It immediately reduced the flame lengths and dropped a large portion to the ground.”

“It went from approximately 80- to 100-foot flame lengths on the tree and shrub dominated side of the road down to probably 2-foot or less flame lengths on the seeded side of the road,” says BLM Fuels Program Manager Paul Briggs.

The suppression line shows it best. One side of a road charred black, the other green and lush. Briggs says that’s one reason they do reseeding efforts, it makes the land more fire resistant.  Other reasons include watershed preservation and wildlife support.

Howell says it’s also a cost-saving measure, the cost of reseeding is drastically less than fighting a fire.

“You’re looking at between 98 to 200 dollars an acre to seed an area like this,” says Howell. “Versus upwards of double and triple that cost for just the fire suppression alone.”

Even though the return on investment doesn’t come for several years, it’s a way to help firefighters battle the blazes of the future.

“We’re always going to have fires in southern Utah,” says Howell. “But if we can implement treatments like this, we’re going to save money, and save habitat in the long run.”

Currently the BLM is assessing the Black Mountain Fire to see what kind of efforts, including reseeding are needed for future growth.