Oak Creek Canyon Recovering From Slide Fire, But May Be At Risk For Floods

By Al Macias
Published: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 5:05am
Updated: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 8:13am
(Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service)
Engine 314 works the Slide Fire in May 2014.

One year ago, a wildfire broke out in Oak Creek Canyon. Before it was over, thousands of acres burned, animal populations were threatened and tourism suffered. Recent rains and restoration efforts have reduced fire danger, but there may be other issues.

Forest service officials said Oak Creek Canyon is showing signs of recovery from last year’s Slide Fire. But there is still a risk of flooding this summer.

The Arizona Daily Sun reported Forest Service teams are testing the absorbency of soil charred by the fire.

Absorbency is an indicator of flood risk during monsoon season. Recent low-intensity storms have helped break down water-repellent oils that coat soil when wood burns.

Officials seeded and mulched about 2,200 acres to help bring the area back. Plant growth is creating potential nesting spots for the Mexican spotted owl and habitats for other animals.