After the Fire

Excerpts:

One year after fire officials with state and federal agencies used a helicopter to drop flaming gel on roughly 5,600 acres to start a prescribed fire in the Lower Gros Ventre drainage, plant life on this chunk of land is thriving.

In the burned patches, bluebunch wheatgrass, buffaloberry and fireweed are taller, greener and more nutritious than in unburned areas. The ash from the fire boosted nutrients, and the flames thinned the tree canopy, letting in more sunlight.

All this healthy plant life means good food for wildlife. Officials with Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department started burning the land in 2007 to benefit big game. The idea is to rectify decades of fire suppression that have left the landscape's plant life older, less diverse and less palatable.