Volunteers helped spread native plant seeds in areas affected by the Pack Creek Fire. [Rachel Fixsen / Moab Sun News]

About 20 volunteers gathered at the Pack Creek Picnic Area on Thursday, Nov. 18 to help Forest Service personnel spread native seeds over areas affected by the Pack Creek fire and along riparian drainages.

The Pack Creek Fire started in the Pack Creek Picnic Area on June 9 this summer. It burned almost 9,000 acres in the La Sal Mountains over the following weeks. Four primary structures and six outbuildings were destroyed and several others were damaged. Access to the forest was restricted for much of the summer.

Moabites were shaken by the event and many wanted to take action to contribute to recovery of the area. The volunteer reseeding event was one opportunity for the community to get hands-on in that effort.

Forest Wildlife Biologist Barb Smith said the new plants might take two to three years to establish, depending on temperatures and moisture levels. Once they start to grow, they’ll improve habitat for wildlife and diversify the plant community. The seeds were purchased with help from the Canyonlands Natural History Association and the Utah Watershed Initiative.

Warm sunshine took the edge off brisk temperatures as volunteers paired up to hike 5-gallon buckets of seeds and rakes a short distance from the picnic area to hillsides and water channels. Participants included Pack Creek residents, USGS employees, nonprofit employees, and conservation corp employees. Thursday was the second volunteer day, and Smith said that by the end of the day most of the areas she was hoping to get treated were completed.