Last year’s Rough Fire is being called one of the biggest wildfires in California’s history, even making the ‘Top 20 List.’ It burned for roughly five months, burning through thousands of acres in Fresno County.
But now that the fire is over, researchers are trying to learn how we can make them less damaging in the future to the park and to wildlife.
It’s the sound of rebirth. The sound of new life. It’s the sound of restoration.
The massive Rough Fire left behind miles of burn scars throughout Kings Canyon National Park, impacting not just it’s beauty, but also it’s biology.
“These areas have been impacted by fire, both prescribed fire and wildfire, and those have impacts on biological communities,” Hydrologist Don Seale said.
And now, these researchers are determined to know more and are learning by listening.
“Through a measurement of the sound, we can measure things like biodiversity, what different species are here,” Seale said.
It’s called Soundscapes. Nine recording devices are set up throughout different impacted areas of the park.
Three in a controlled area with no fire history.
“Then we have the other 6 in a Rough Fire or prescribed burn area or a mix of both,” Physical Science Technician Robert Mertens said.
They record hundreds of hours of audio, which gives researchers endless amounts of information.
Like how long it takes wildlife to come back to a burned area, and which animals return first.
“Different species, whether it’s birds, maybe even some insects and bats,” Ecologist Erik Meyer said.
And also if it’s helpful to have prescribed burns. Meyer says with prescribed burns, they are able to remove natural fuels from the ground, and that can lessen the intensity of natural fires, which might help wildlife return sooner.
“It’s very possible that it really benefits the wildlife to not have these really high intensity burns. And we’re going to be able to get that measurement,” Meyer said.
The soundcards are sent off to Colorado where the data is analyzed. Researchers hope to have more concrete findings by this time next year.