Burned: How a Wildfire Devastated Lives in Oregon

The Oregonian, Oregon’s largest daily newspaper, published a 20-page special section on Sunday, “Burned: How a Wildfire Devastated Lives in Oregon.” The online version includes several videos of the fire area. To its credit, The Oregonian allowed the USFS to respond to the article (page 15 or here).

The paper also has a “Fixes” section that addresses funding, forest restoration, and other factors. Under each of the “solutions” are the key folks who can make or influence change or reforms. For example, under forest restoration, several US senators, USFS Chief Tom Tidwell, and Oregon’s Gov. Brown are listed. In the online version, there are “Tweet” and Contact” links under each name.

The comments online are worth reading — 51, so far. One of them said, “I would suggest that these reporters spend a fire season out there so they might have some inkling of what they are talking about. Otherwise they are worse than arm chair quarter backs. They are dangerously uninformed and misinformed.”

I agree, to a point.

In the Fixes section, The paper suggest that “Congress also would need to hold the agency accountable for results, continue funding of collaborative groups and support “landscape level” projects that analyze restoration on 1 million acres, instead of 30,000-acre chunks. ” Here, too, I agree to a point: The agency should be held accountable, but so should the collaboratives and the groups that oppose forest management (not that Congress has any power to do so, except via funding, in the case of collaboratives).

Bottom line: The Oregonian deserves much credit for devoting to much time and effort to the issues.


8 thoughts on “Burned: How a Wildfire Devastated Lives in Oregon”

  1. Funny comment in the comments section:

    “The FS logs hundreds of millions of acres in the Pacific Northwest every year. Lots of logging happening, it just isn’t the old-growth logging and clearcutting the logging industry wants.”

  2. That’s a hilarious comment! I doubt you can find a million acres of federal ground in the PNW that is logged each year.
    The not so funny part of the equation is that the lack of management has resulted in compounded growth of biomass for 25 years. The final product is catastrophic wildfire, increased mortality from drought, weakened trees being more suseptical to insect infestations, basically an all around unhealthy forest eco system on federal ground.

    • The Oregonian is issued daily, but in a “forest products edition” only on 4 days. I read it on the 3 digital-only days on my tablet.

  3. I thought it was a good article, and the Oregonian deserves credit for addressing these issues. Forest management trough wildfires is just helping destroy our forests and communities.

  4. The Oregonian published a follow-up article in the Sunday printed edition, “Burned: Lawmakers call for change within U.S. Forest Service” (tinyurl.com/gvn5tu5).

    “Sen. Ron Wyden, along with U.S. Reps. Greg Walden, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader all expressed deep frustration with an ongoing congressional stalemate and an overly cautious agency that increasingly diverts money from land management programs to fight wildfires. The practice delays restoration work that makes forests more resistant to devastating fire, placing large swaths of Oregon’s federal timberland and nearby communities at risk.”

    Of course, we might debate “overly cautious,” as there’s much more to the story, and this article addresses some of them.

    Also in the Sunday edition, an op-ed, “Forest fuels pileup, not firefighter failure, made Canyon Creek fire a tragedy” (tinyurl.com/hvvld8z), by Christopher Dunn, Ph.D., is a research associate, and John Bailey, Ph.D., is a professor at the Oregon State University College of Forestry in Corvallis. Contributing are Harold Zald, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Humboldt State University in California; Garrett Meigs, Ph.D., a post-doctoral associate at the University of Vermont; and James Johnston, Ph.D., a research assistant, and Matthew Reilly, Ph.D., a post-doctoral associate, of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.


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