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2 NEW EXHIBITS AT BYU FOCUS ON YELLOWSTONE FIRES

SHARE 2 NEW EXHIBITS AT BYU FOCUS ON YELLOWSTONE FIRES

Forest fires last year in Yellowstone National Park are the subject of two new exhibits at Brigham Young University's Bean Life Sciences Museum, which is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

The two new exhibits, in the coniferous forest diorama alcove, will remain for at least one year.The first exhibit, "Yellowstone Fires of 1988 - Catastrophe or Opportunity?," is a two-part, photographic visit to several burned spots in the park. This display shows the same spots immediately after the fire and six months later.

"There is a lot of information about fires that people don't know," said Clark Brereton, a museum employee and a member of the team that went to Yellowstone during the fire. "Which animals suffer or benefit from fires, which trees were hurt or helped? Sure, fires are dangerous, but they are a natural catastrophe that can actually help the forests."

The other new exhibit, "Succession: Nature's Renewal," shows how nature recovers after a fire.

"Only one year after the fire, a lot of areas that were badly burned have recuperated already," Brereton said. "In some of the meadows that were burned off, the grass is already back."

According to Brereton, the three years before the fire were extremely dry and left a lot of dead wood around. The fire cleaned up the dead trees and encouraged new plant life and small mammals to move back into these areas.

"It's nature's renewal process," said Brereton. There is probably twice the amount of available food for big animals than there was before." The older, taller forest kept small plant life from thriving.