Ecological - Second Order
In early August 1961, more than 26,000 acres (10,500 ha) of upper montane and subalpine forest on the Bitterroot National Forest burned in a lightning-caused wildfire. At the time, the Sleeping Child Burn represented the single largest forest fire in the Northern Rocky Mountains in more than 20 years. Historically, large wildfires have not been uncommon in this region: but after two decades of successful forest fire suppression, the Sleeping Child was treated as an event almost without precedent. Not only was reseeding and rehabilitation an immediate concern, a substantial effort was invested in attempting to return the burned area to timber production. The burned area also provided an unusual opportunity to evaluate and describe vegetation recovery following a large and intense forest fire.