|Photo by Dylan Klinesteker|
But those who live or travel in the burned areas won't soon forget. And with climate models that show a warmer and drier Pacific Northwest in the decades ahead, many are concerned about the future.
In late August this year, those of us who love the North Cascades Institute Environmental Learning Center (ELC) were glued to FaceBook, Twitter, and other media for news of its fate. We were desperately hoping that this wonderful place would be spared from the swift-moving Goodell Fire in the Skagit River Gorge.
It was definitely touch and go.
At one point the ELC was under a 30-minute evacuation order as the quick-moving fire raged up the steep mountainsides rimming the gorge toward the campus. ELC staff were told there was a 75 percent chance that the learning center would be affected.
According to Program Manager Katie Roloson, who stayed at the ELC and had a boat loaded and ready for retreat onto Diablo Lake if necessary, they were informed that the fire would likely reach the ELC in less than a day. Fortunately the fire slowed down a bit, and fire crews arrived to do more protective measures (e.g., run hoses all around).
|Highway 20 just outside Newhalem. Photo by Dylan Klinesteker.|
But then the rains came, over 4.5 inches in a few days. As Timothy Egan characterized our region, "a Good Rain" saved the day. Heavy rain suppressed the fire and saturated the drought-parched moss and understory plants that contributed to the spreading fire.
|Understory plants and trees like vine maples left the ELC vulnerable to fire.|
|Smoke from Goodell Fire hot spot above Newhalem, October 2015.|
Dylan, who watched the fire in its early stages near Newhalem before it "blew up" on August 19, tells us
|Dylan Klinesteker discussing the Goodell Fire.|
"People see all this damage and think it’s ugly. Good can come of it," naturalist Becky List told us.
|Where the fire began from lightning strike.|
|Early burning. Photo by Dylan Klinesteker.|
We park just outside the entrance to the closed campground, which was threatened and partially burned by the fire, and walk over a bridge across the Skagit River.