The two recent editorials relating to moving toward new ways of thinking about forest wildfires were very timely and provided succinct descriptions of the science-based reasons for doing so.
The public, and many public officials, are not aware that fires are, and always have been, an integral component of of the ecosystem that supports our native Douglas-fir forests.
I started my career as a forester in western Oregon in the late 1950s. One of my first assignments involved mapping and sampling the many old-growth stands so common back then. I worked in stands that were up to 800 years of age. I never saw an old-growth Douglas-fir forest that did not bear signs of previous fire activity. The interval between fires in a particular stand might be highly variable, ranging from 50 years to hundreds of years. But the fact remains — fires are an integral part of the Douglas-fir ecosystem and their impacts on the health and productivity are probably not yet fully understood.
We certainly need a new fire strategy. Thankfully, the development of that strategy is well underway. Mr. Paleologou, working in conjunction with Oregon State University, is quoted in the Aug. 29 editorial as saying, "The new strategy is to allow some natural ignitions to burn naturally, to restore the role of fire in the forest."
This is precisely what is needed. March on.
Albany (Aug. 29)