Fire Recovery Could Be Slow In Parts Of Buffalo Creek Wildlife Management Area

      Nebraska Game and Parks has reopened the Buffalo Creek Wildlife Management Area in the Wildcat Hills southwest of Gering, where a wildfire 3 weeks ago burned 1,742 of its 4,141 acres. Another 900-acres of private land was also burned.

          Game and Parks Wildlife Manager Hunter Baillie of Alliance says some burned trees are still smoldering while many have been weakened to the point that they pose a risk of falling for years to come.

      Baillie says damage to trees and other vegetation throughout the burn area is varied; some should be positively affected with new growth while those where the fire burned very hot will take a long time to recover. 

       The mix of wildlife in the Buffalo Creek WMA may also be changed by the fire. Bailiie says it may take some time for some species to return while others, such as wild turkeys, are often attracted to recently burned areas. 

       Meanwhile, the investigation continues into the specific cause of the fire. It was of human origin, but State Fire Marshal Ryan Sylvest told KNEB that power lines, cigarettes, and hot exhaust from a vehicle have been ruled out.