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The Klondike Fire Along the Illinois River Trail

A view from the Illinois River Trail to Pine Flat after the Klondike Fire.

The Klondike Fire Along the Illinois River Trail
 

The
Klondike Fire burned along the majority of the Illinois River Trail this
summer, deep in the heart of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. The fire burned in a
natural mixed-severity mosaic through the 2002 Biscuit Fire footprint. The
Klondike Fire burned in a diversity of habitats, including closed-canopy mixed
conifer forests, serpentine woodlands, chaparral and forests of sun-bleached
snags. The fire reduced fuel, recycled nutrition and continued shaping the
fire- adapted forests of this wild region.  
As
part of Klamath Forest Alliance’s Klamath-Siskiyou Fire Reports, we have been out on the ground exploring the
Klondike Fire, its fire effects, fire suppression impacts, and trail
conditions. Below is a photo essay of the Klondike Fire along the Illinois
River Trail. All photos were taken recently from the Illinois River Trail, in
mid-November 2018.
The
Illinois River Trail can be accessed during the winter months as long as snow
levels remain high; however, the eastern access at Oak Flat immediately crosses
Briggs Creek on a large bridge, and the wood on the bridge burned in the fire,
making the bridge crossing unsafe. We crossed Briggs Creek by fording the
stream, but now that rain has returned and water levels may be up, that
crossing may be unsafe as well. The western access from Oak Flat near Agness
should be accessible through the winter months, but winter weather can impact
trail conditions, so use caution. 

Looking up the Illinois River towards the confluence of Briggs Creek.
The rugged Illinois River canyon in the heart of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness downstream from Nome Creek.

Old growth forests burned at low to moderate severity in the Clear Creek watershed.

Native plants such as the rare western sophora (Sophora leachiana) sprouted back quickly after the Klondike Fire. Species like western sophora will expand their populations due to the effects of the Biscuit and Klondike Fires. These native plant populations have been “restored” through the effects of high-severity fire.
The incredible clear, blue waters of the Illinois River wind through the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and the Klondike Fire.

A sharp bend in the Illinois River at the confluence of Clear Creek and the Shorty Noble site. Notice the low to moderate severity fire effects in the mixed conifer forests of the Illinois River canyon.
A beautiful bend on the Illinois River near Nome Creek.

Umbrella plant (Darmera peltata) along Briggs Creek.
The Illinois River and Silver Peak above the confluence of Indigo Creek. Notice the low severity fire effects in the lush conifer forests below Silver Peak. The fire burned low and cool beneath towering forests of Douglas fir, sugar pine, tanoak and madrone.The snags in the foreground are from the 2002 Biscuit Fire.
The Indigo Creek canyon along the Illinois River Trail. The Klondike Fire burned in the immediate vicinity, but the snags in the background are from the 2002 Biscuit Fire. The Klondike Fire still refused to burn on the serpentine slopes above.
Understory fire burned beneath the beautiful old-growth forests surrounding Fantz Meadow.
Fantz Meadow following the Klondike Fire.

The small historic structure and rusted farm equipment at Fantz Meadow made it through the Klondike Fire. The fire burned at mostly low severity surrounding Fantz Meadow.

Low severity fire burned the under brush around Fantz Meadow while maintaining the old-growth canopy.
A view up Indigo Creek showing mixed severity fire effects.

The incredible Illinois River canyon upstream of Indigo Creek, following the Klondike Fire.

The wild, rugged Illinois River canyon.

KFA is in the midst of field work, document review, and analysis of this season’s wildfires, including the Klondike Fire. We are in the process of preparing fire reports throughout the region. Please consider making a donation and supporting our work. 

For more information: klamathsiskiyoufirereports.org

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