SOURCE: National Interagency Fire Center, Several dozen conflagrations have consumed more than one million acres in the state over the past week.

While the types of blazes that Oregon saw this month — summer flames stoked by dry winds from the east — are not common, they are also not unheard-of in the Northwest’s more recent history, going back to the deadly Yacolt Burn in 1902. ODF keeps statistics on wildfires that occur in its protection jurisdiction, 16 million acres of private and public forestland. Please include your email and phone number for verification. Mr. Baertschiger was not so sure about that idea. At least 35 people on the West Coast have been killed so far. But this action is not very effective in wetter forests, where fuels grow back much more quickly. State Senator Lew Frederick, a Democrat, said he was hopeful that the devastation Oregon had seen over the past several weeks, including hazardous smoke that blanketed the region for days, would help shift the politics. Millions of acres of old-growth were clearcut in the 20th century and replaced with plantations. “When they burn, they burn hot, and there’s not much we can do about it except stay out of the way and also suppress the fires when they are small,” Mr. Johnson said. Yes, forest managers can and do reduce fire risk in young plantations by piling and burning the debris left after clearcutting, but the plantations become very susceptible to fire as they fill in. About the numbers The Oregon Department of Forestry provides a list of fires dating back to the 19th Century but vouches only for those since 1916.
The receptionist at the log cabin-style Ponderosa Motel in Enterprise, a 2,000-person town nestled below the Wallowa mountains in eastern Oregon, was distraught. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- Six months into the coronavirus pandemic, after a summer of protests over police brutality and racism, Oregon faces a third crisis: wildfire sparked by climate change. The frequency of fires has varied – some centuries experienced few fires while other centuries had many. And, under extreme weather, such as we just experienced, all forests can burn with high severity, whether managed or not. “How long will it last? We need to think and plan over longer time frames, recognize differences between wet and dry forests, and continually adapt to the unintended consequences of our actions on our landscapes and climate. From the 1940s to the 1980s, Oregon weather was relatively cool and wet, and fires were not common – Mother Nature lulled us into a false sense of security. Since the environmental compromises of the early 1990s, the wildland-urban interface where communities are most at risk of wildfire in Oregon has seen the number of homes grow by about 40 percent. At points the smoke settled so densely around the road it was impossible to tell whether the highway was snaking through a deep canyon or flat farmland. SALEM, Ore. — The warnings kept getting more dire: Even in the lush landscapes west of the Cascade Mountains, the climate in Oregon was getting warmer and drier. Oregon has looked at measures that could make communities in wildland fire areas more fire resistant. For policymakers in Oregon, the disastrous fires have illustrated the consequences of delay and prompted new conversations about some of the lasting changes that until now have eluded lawmakers. People can install air filters in homes and communities can establish clean air shelters for people with sensitivities to smoke. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Kate Brown backed legislation to tackle the whole range of problems: thinning the forests, hiring more firefighters, establishing new requirements to make homes more fire-resistant and — looking to the future — a cap-and-trade program on greenhouse gas emissions that would assure that Oregon was doing its part to combat climate change. © 2020 Advance Local Media LLC. All rights reserved (About Us). Other parts of the governor’s plan included embracing some of the lessons California learned during devastating wildfires over the past few years, after which the state began requiring utilities to improve transmission-line management and consider pre-emptive electrical shutdowns during risky weather events. A waitress at a café pointed at the haze that had settled over the Wallowa mountains, turning them into a blue silhouette. The biggest fires occurred when hot, dry, high winds from the east blew-up small existing fires into million-acre monsters, as we have just experienced.

3 Minute Read All rights reserved. On Saturday, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality declared an advisory for the entire state. The tensions over how to properly manage the state’s timberlands have also been around since the state’s inception, when settlers in Portland were felling so many trees that the city got the nickname Stumptown. In any case, he said, in the regions of the western Cascades that are filled with enormous Douglas firs, rare but voracious wildfires are simply part of the ecology. Experts say the fires are the worst they’ve been in decades due to climate change, a dry, hot summer, and extreme wind. The Oregon wildfire council also proposed more air monitoring and filtering for days when fires blanket the West Coast in acrid smoke, as they did last week.

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