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Wildland Fire and Mercury Contamination in Soil and Water

Randall K. Kolka (US Forest Service, Northern Research Station, rkolka@fs.fed.us) and Trent Wickman (US Forest Service, Superior National Forest, twickman@fs.fed.us)

February 17, 2011.

Mercury contamination in fish is well known in the Great Lake States as well as in the northeast U.S and Canada, even in remote wilderness areas. Although we are beginning to understand the Hg cycle, little is known of how wildland or prescribed fire affects Hg cycling processes and thus there is a significant data gap in land management decisions regarding use of fire for ecosystem restoration and fuels management in the Lake State Region. In this project we are addressing that data gap by assessing Hg cycling processes in both pre- and post-burned watersheds in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area located in the Superior National Forest (SNF) in northeast Minnesota. Visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/superior/mercurystudy for more information.