Forest experts say Gorge will heal itself after Eagle Creek Fire - KPTV - FOX 12

Forest experts say Gorge will heal itself after Eagle Creek Fire

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Eagle Creek Fire (KPTV/Air 12 file image) Eagle Creek Fire (KPTV/Air 12 file image)
COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE, OR (KPTV) -

Many people are wondering what the Columbia River Gorge – and especially the hiking trails – will look like once the Eagle Creek Fire is finally out.

Even though the fire is believed to be human-caused, experts say fire is a natural part of a forest’s ecosystem and it will heal itself.
 
As of Wednesday, the fire had burned more than 36,000 acres and it started on one of the most popular hiking trails in the area.

U.S. Forest Service officials said Wednesday it will be at least Spring 2018 before hikers can return to their favorite Gorge trails in the fire zone.

Don't expect the area to look the same, either. 

Experts said it’s a designated wilderness area so they will not do major replanting or rehabilitation beyond trail repairs.
 
“While we might be saddened when we see fire scars on the slopes, bear in mind that the natural system, that fire is part of it and it has the ability to regenerate itself,” said Rachel Pawlitz with the U.S. Forest Service.
 
Officials want to remind hikers it’s not only dangerous to go into the fire zone right now, it is also illegal.

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