PAYSON, Utah — A year after 120,000 acres were scorched by the Bald Mountain and Pole Creek fires, Payson is springing back to life.
Sarah Flinders, acting District Ranger for the Spanish Fork Ranger District with the U.S. Forest Service, said 5,000 to 6,000 trees came down in the flames. The Ranger District cut down 2,500 to make the area safe again for the public.
“We have people that come here to camp, fish, hike, just view the scenes, and of course, everyone wants to come and view the effects from this fire,” Flinders said.
The area that the Bald Mountain fire blazed through — dangerously close to homes — looked charred and smoky last year. Now, the scar is still there, but peeking out between the trees you can see flowers and green.
“We’re seeing a lot of the native grasses, a lot of the native aspen and different shrubs come back in, due to the heavy snowfall that we had and the amount of rain that we had all spring,” Flinders said.
Rebuilding fences and reseeding, Flinders said they have regrowth projects that will continue throughout the rest of 2019 and into 2020.
“We’re also continuing to replant a lot of our native shrubs, a lot of our native grasses, and we will continue to work on the rebuild of any trails that did see erosion damage,” Flinders said.
Fifteen miles of trail still remain closed off, and Flinders said they are watching those areas along with 40,000 acres that are in danger of becoming a mudslide.
“We’ve seen soil, rocks and trees come down ravines, down riverways and also overland flow,” Flinders said.
Nebo Creek, Benny Creek and Santaquin Canyon are a few of the areas Flinders is watching for flash floods.