Residents living in the southern Utah community of Cedar City watched as flames fueled a fire and filled the air with smoke beginning in June 2017. The Brian Head fire damaged more than 72,000 acres of Dixie National Forest and Bureau of Land Management land.
Now, the charred soil that remains will become part of an outdoor classroom. A Southern Utah University biology professor is working with citizen scientists to help restore the damaged land.
Two SUU community education courses taught June 7-22 and July 30- Aug. 14 will give participants the opportunity to work with forest and land managers.
"Welcoming the community to interact with the federal agencies and an educator, myself, to learn about plants and how we use them to restore the land after the fire," Dr. Jacqualine Grant said.
An experiential educator and biology professor, Dr. Grant will teach two Plants and Public Lands community education courses. She will discuss seed collection for restoration, plant identification and keeping a field journal. In the field her students will plant willows, do Jack Strawing work by placing erosion prevention material to the fire damaged areas, and will also learn about Bull Hogging.
"They have these huge machines that are just monsters and they come in and chew up Pinions and Junipers,” Grant said. “Once you remove them it releases the water from the ground below and also frees the seed bank. You’ll just get amazing blooms afterwards of all these little herbaceous plants that have beautiful flowers.”
The course also includes training for citizen scientists who want to contribute to a global database.
“And teach other scientists all over the world about the amazing diversity of plants and possibly some insects that we have down here in southern Utah,” she said.