New Oregon State research center focuses on fire-prone landscapes
Doing nothing in our forests could lead to catastrophic fires
Decades of fire suppression have put the Ponderosa pine forests of Eastern Oregon at risk. Despite being adapted to frequent low-intensity fire, they have accumulated high fuel loads. Forest managers must decide when to let low-intensity fires burn and where to invest in costly fuel reduction treatments.
“The margin between life and death in the forest can be rather small,” says Oregon State climate scientist Philip Mote. As wildfires widen, insects invade and drought deepens, the razor-thin margin for tree survival becomes ever thinner.
The 2002 Biscuit Fire not only torched a half-million acres in Southern Oregon, it became a poster child for the debate over post-fire management and forest recovery.
On a winter day last February, it was standing room only in the Medford, Oregon, city hall.