Field Report - Pagami #1

I’ve just returned from my eleventh visit to photograph the continuing story of the landscape’s recovery from the 2011 Pagami Creek Fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Superior National Forest. The fire started east of Ely, Minnesota on August 26th and between September 11th and 12th, blew up. Ignited by a lightning strike near Pagami Creek and smoldering into November, the fire ultimately consumed nearly 100,000 acres (see Fire Progression map below).

I began documenting the fire area six months later, in May 2012. The last major fire through this area was 1894 and from an ecological perspective, it was time for fire to renew the forest. As a artist and landscape architect, I was drawn to the fire area to observe the process.

In a series of blog posts, I will take you through time; sharing photographs, videos, entries from my journal and insights from scientists and ecologists.

Pagami Creek Fire Area Progression Map showing the extent of the fire around Isabella Lake and a dot indicating the locations on Island River that I have been photographing. (Map courtesy of Brian Sturtevant, United States Forest Service, Rhinelander, Wisconsin ).

Outline of the Pagami Creek Fire Area with dot indicating my photography locations. (Map courtesy of Lee Frelich, University of Minnesota.)

Island River (MN) Pagami Creek Fire Area, Site #2, May 2012. This is the very first photograph that I made at the Island River location. I've numbered the six sites from east-to-west, proceeding in a loop from where I enter on Forest Road 377 (Tomahawk Road).