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Fossil Creek Suffered Less Damage Than Expected In Backbone Fire

Coconino National Forest

Land managers and wildlife biologists say the Fossil Creek area suffered only moderate damage in this summer’s Backbone Fire, which forced the evacuations of Pine and Strawberry. The Payson Roundup reports that within the 3,000 acres of the Fossil Wild and Scenic River Corridor, 10% did not burn at all, 54% had low-severity burns and 34% had moderate severity burns. Only 2% of the area had high-severity burns. Plants have a hard time returning in those conditions. Along the creek, about 96% of the more than 650 acres that burned suffered moderate to low-severity burns, and only 3% suffered high-severity burns. Land managers say riparian areas have the capacity to recover from most burns. However, fish populations are being watched closely as pools along the corridor have filled in with mud and debris. Fossil Creek is likely to remain closed to the public into next spring, and some areas are now more susceptible to heavy runoff and erosion.