Busenius, AB (Photo by Rangeland Conservation Services)

Busenius, AB (Photo by Rangeland Conservation Services)

After the fire

Harvie property - Photo from point 12, 2016 (Photo by NCC)

Harvie property - Photo from point 12, 2016 (Photo by NCC)

Jaimee Dupont Morozoff works in the Edmonton area and manages the Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC's) Parkland and Grassland team and the Cooking Lake Moraine Natural Area east of Edmonton. Her education includes forestry and prairie pollinator studies.

Natural disturbances in Canada’s boreal forest, such as forest fire, have occurred for thousands of years. Disturbance is part of the natural life cycle of the forest and most often helps the forest to renew itself and control insects and disease outbreaks.

Despite this, it doesn’t make the impact on humans any less devastating. In the spring of 2016, the country watched the destructive fire near Fort McMurray, Alberta, and the impact it had on the people and the homes in that area. Growing up in the boreal forest of Manitoba, and now living near Edmonton, Alberta, forest fires have always been and will continue to be a part of my life. Even though I live in and near cities now, whenever I hear a helicopter, my first instinct is still that there must be a fire nearby.

Harvie property - Old Trappers Cabin, October 2005 (Photo by NCC)

Harvie property - Old Trappers Cabin, October 2005 (Photo by NCC)

Harvie property - Old Trappers Cabin, August 2016 (Photo by NCC)

Harvie property - Old Trappers Cabin, August 2016 (Photo by NCC)

As a child, I have vivid memories of our small northern Manitoba town being evacuated by helicopter once when the fire came too close to the community and the only road out became blocked. Luckily, the town was spared. For the rest of my life living there (and still when I go back), every time you drive down the only access road, on both sides is a textbook example of the transition from a barren blackened landscape, to the flush of bright green, and the transition through the stages as the forest renewed and reclaimed itself. Being exposed to such a large and powerful forest fire and wanting to know more about it was one of the reasons I went on to university to study forest ecology.

Harvie property - Photo from point 12, 2006 (Photo by NCC)

Harvie property - Photo from point 12, 2006 (Photo by NCC)

Harvie property - Photo from point 12, 2016 (Photo by NCC)

Harvie property - Photo from point 12, 2016 (Photo by NCC)

The Nature Conservancy of Canada owns the 80-acre Harvie property along the Athabasca River, directly northeast of Fort McMurray, Alberta, which is accessible only by boat. In August of 2016, my field tech Carissa and I were able to make a trip up to the property, along with our long-time property steward Bob. The property was quite changed, as fire swept through the entirety of it. However, even a month or two after the fire, the renewal in the forest (and in the city of Fort McMurray) was already happening.

Thanks to some photo reference points taken from past monitoring, we can see what the property looked like before and what it looks like now. These photos are from the same spot — 11 years apart. In addition, some photos show the first flush of green in a burned landscape.

Check out more images of the property regrowing after the fire, below.

  • Harvie property after the fire (Photo by Jaimee Dupont Morozoff)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Harvie property after the fire (Photo by Jaimee Dupont Morozoff)
  • Harvie property after the fire (Photo by Jaimee Dupont Morozoff)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Harvie property after the fire (Photo by Jaimee Dupont Morozoff)
  • Harvie property after the fire (Photo by Jaimee Dupont Morozoff)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Harvie property after the fire (Photo by Jaimee Dupont Morozoff)
  • Harvie property after the fire (Photo by Jaimee Dupont Morozoff)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Harvie property after the fire (Photo by Jaimee Dupont Morozoff)

 


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