Posted: Jun 14, 2013 11:34 AM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: Jun 14, 2013 11:38 AM
WEST YELLOWSTONE - It's been 25 years since fire tore through Yellowstone National Park, forever changing the landscape of one of the most iconic places in the country.
The damage was extensive as hundreds of thousands of acres.
"It was really significant. It was something that we had never seen in the park, or frankly, in this region since probably 1910," Yellowstone National Park spokesman Al Nash recalled.
Many Montanans still vividly remember what it was like - smoke filled air, national news coverage and the fears that one of the most beautiful places on earth would be forever destroyed.
But now, a quarter of a century later, we look at fire differently.
"There was a time when we thought all fire was bad, not just in Yellowstone but all across this region. And so we went to try and put out every fire. We are still very protective of people and things that they build, but what we've learned is that these forests need fire," Nash explained.
Now, as visitors drive through the park, they can see where fire has changed the landscape for the better.
"It creates those woods and meadows and places that a variety of animals need to be successful. So, fire is important for us and it's important for the animals," Nash said.
More than 25,000 personnel worked all throughout the summer to fight 50 fires that burned nearly 500,000 acres within Yellowstone National Park.
The season culminated when flames threatened the most popular tourist attraction - Old Faithful.
"We don't want to see a scenario where fire might approach an iconic structure again like the Old Faithful Inn or some of the other many structures we have," Nash said.
But fire officials will now let fire run its natural course through the wilderness, creating new habitat and reshaping the landscape.