In 2007 the population got big enough that officials first fed the hooved herd alfalfa to keep them from starving, a food the animals didn't take to well. They then opened areas like the Pumice Plain to limited hunting to thin the herd.
When the fish were found in Spirit Lake in the 1990s, they were believed to have been mysteriously (and illegally) stocked there by humans. Now scientists think they may have made their way up from the Toutle River naturally, but no one's quite sure.
As the first known species to return to the Pumice Plain after the eruption, the lovely purple flower did more than prettify; they enriched the soil through nitrogen fixation, allowing other greenery to return faster than expected.
Though the blast decimated the area’s herd, which wasn’t particularly large to begin with, the alpine ungulates are now a common sight to hikers and plentiful enough for Cowlitz tribal members to restart the traditional practice of gathering fallen wool for ceremonial weaving.
While not one of the most ecologically notable returns, the spring fruit always amazes USGS volcanologist Alexa Van Eaton: “The most gorgeous volcano in the world, so entrenched in our story of the PNW…and it erupts tiny strawberries we can eat.”