Carpenter 1 Fire Poses Threat for Wildlife

MOUNT CHARLESTON, Nev. -- The beautiful peaks of Mount Charleston are scorched after a fire that burned nearly 28,000 acres. Scientists said it will take years for it to look just as green as before.

The animals who live on what scientists describe as a "sky mountain" have nowhere else to go. When a fire takes out the mountain, it takes out the animals' habitats and could wipe out entire species.

Mount Charleston is called a sky mountain because of its forest surrounded by hundreds of miles of desolate desert.

The Burned Area Emergency Response team, or BAER, is tracking where the most damage has happened so far. With them are local scientists who know where these endangered species live.

According to scientists, there are quite a few endangered species that can only be found on the mountain, including seven species of butterflies such as the Mount Charleston blue butterfly.

There are also chipmunks and 30 species of plants that are only found on the mountain.

The bristlecone pine is also found on the mountain. The tree can live longer than any other known organism.

Wildlife biologist Jenny Ramirez, who is working on the mountain, said the damage has been done and care needs to be taken when containing the remaining fire.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Carpenter 1 fire was 80 percent contained.

"There was definitely some habitat loss over there, and so from here on out, what we do is, we work with the fire crews to make sure that when they are working through whatever habitat we have up there, they are using a real light touch on the land," Ramirez said.

Displaced residents said they were worried they'd come back home to a destroyed mountain.

So far, the scientists are finding that the mountain had moderate burning, where you can see smoke and flames, but it might not have wiped out the habitats.

Scientists said they don't have a plan yet to protect the wildlife living on the mountain from additional threats, but will be spending the next two weeks assessing the damage. A full report is expected to be delivered to the Fish and Wildlife Department, which is in charge of any protection.


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