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Pacific Northwest Research Station

 
 
 
Pacific Northwest Research Station
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Oregon Fire Used to Assess Fire Effects and Recovery

USDA Forest Service
Pacific Northwest Research Station

Portland, OR: May 8, 2003

Contact:

Dave Azuma, 503-808-2047

Sherri Richardson-Dodge, 503-808-2137

 

PORTLAND, Ore. May 8, 2003. The 2002 Biscuit Fire in the Siskiyou NF was one of the largest in Oregon history: more than 499,000 acres burned. The fire season was the worst in over 140 years, with costs of over $150 million for the Biscuit Fire alone. Although fire is a natural part of our environment, there is broad interest in making it less destructive and less harmful to people, their property, and forested landscapes.


A team of scientists at the Pacific Northwest (PNW) Research Station, USDA Forest Service, is leading a postfire data collection effort at the site of the Biscuit Fire in southwestern Oregon to help fire managers mitigate future fires similar to the Biscuit.


The Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program at the station annually inventories trees, vegetation, and down wood on public and private land. Inventory data collected before the Biscuit Fire will be used as a basis to compare postfire data collected this year. This study will help forest managers:

 

  • Assess fire severity across the landscape and its effects on the vegetation.
  • Identify factors (such as amounts of brush and down wood) that contribute to high-severity burns.
  • Monitor postfire tree survival and recovery and forest succession over time.

"The ability to survive or recover from fire is species dependent. For example, trees with thicker bark, higher crown base, and deeper rooting can withstand greater heat," explains FIA scientist Dave Azuma. "The effect on the aboveground vegetation can be classified by the length of flame, as evidenced by observations of scorch height. The effect on the soil surface can be characterized by the extent of ground char. When these observations are combined with aerial estimates of fire intensity and additional postfire composition and structural characteristics, we can provide accurate estimates of fire severity."


Field work on the Biscuit Fire's 180 existing plots begins near Grants Pass in May and will continue through October. FIA plots within the perimeter of last summer's McNally Fire in California's Sequoia National Forest also will be measured this summer.


US Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station
Last Modified: Tuesday,18November2014 at11:57:16CST


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