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We at KNAU know that northern Arizona wildfire information is crucial to our listeners. This page is our comprehensive source for information about the 2015 wildfire season. Here you will find all the latest updates from area fire agencies and national forests as well as wildfire-oriented stories.For breaking news tips, call the KNAU newsroom at (928) 523-4912 or e-mail

Earth Notes: After a Fire, Is a Spring an Oasis?

Springs are magical places where groundwater comes to the surface — lush green patches that are among the most diverse, productive, and threatened ecosystems on Earth.

They may also be hotspots of regeneration after big forest fires on the Colorado Plateau. Larry Stevens, director of the Springs Stewardship Institute at the Museum of Northern Arizona, is testing the idea that springs recover faster than the surrounding landscape after a fire passes through.

He and colleagues surveyed 32 springs in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in eastern Arizona in 2010. A year later, more than a half million acres burned in the Wallow Fire on the forest.

Last summer, with students from Prescott College, they re-surveyed springs inside and outside the burned area. This summer they hope to complete the re-survey work, and inventory more springs.

The thinking goes that without trees using soil moisture, the flow of a spring likely increases. Soils around springs may heal faster too after a fire. Animals like mountain lions will be drawn to springs in search of prey, and rare plants can reappear in a fairly short time.

But heavy sediments can overwhelm springs after fires, harming invertebrates and other creatures. Weeds may invade as well.

Springs are significant to most Native people, and several tribes are involved in the spring surveys too. Field crews will use the institute’s comprehensive inventory and assessment methods. All the information will be fed into a growing database — shedding more light on these unique, important places where water comes to light.

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