Fire could bring new plants, animals to national park

LURAY, Va. (WRIC & WCAV) — Though the Rocky Mount Fire has burned more than 10,000 acres of Shenandoah National Park, scientists say it will create a new beginning for the forest.

Melissa Forder, a fire ecologist, monitors changes before and after prescribed burns and wildfires She says wildfires help new plant life grow because the ash is a form of nutritious soil that will allow plants to thrive. The flames also cleared out a layer of leaves over the existing soil. And with new plant life, new animals could make their homes in the park as well.

“We’ll see new plants and animals that we haven’t seen in this area in decades through the fire for the first time,” Forder said. “We’ll see new grasses, new songbirds, more whitetail deer, and more black bears.

The last time a big fire burned through this part of Shenandoah National Park was 85 years ago.

Park officials say they could have the closed parts of Skyline Drive and the Appalachian Trail open as soon as this Sunday.

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