Creating Fire-resilient Landscapes 2004

Rainy day, so I’m cleaning out my office — I do so every decade or so. Found a flier for a 2004 conference in Medord, OR, sponsored by OSU’s College of Forestry: “Creating Fire-resilient Landscapes: Improving Our Understanding and Application.” A decade later, we’re still working on it….

31 thoughts on “Creating Fire-resilient Landscapes 2004”

  1. It’s actually 2 decades later…not one. And the Biscuit Fire Recovery project proposed something very similar to PODs around that time too….Funny that I don’t remember that conference because I was working in SW Oregon for the Forest Service at that time…

    • Right — 2 decades. Go back another decade…. I also unearthed a copy of “Assessing Forest Ecosystem Health in the Inland West,” a 1994 book edited by R Neil Sampson and David L Adams. From the publisher’s web site:

      The following topics are analyzed:

      Assessing forest ecosystem health in the Inland West
      Historical and anticipated changes in forest ecosystems in the Inland West
      Defining and measuring forest health
      Historical range of variability as a tool for evaluating ecosystem change
      Administrative barriers to implementing forest health problems
      Economic and social dimensions of the forest health problem
      Fire management
      Ecosystem and landscape management

      Assessing Forest Ecosystem Health in the Inland West will help facilitate sound resource planning because it brings together the problems facing the Inland West from an interdisciplinary perspective. This approach allows resource managers and policymakers creativity in planning and implementing strategies to confront forest health problems in the Inland West ecosystems.

  2. Maybe we should call for a national emergency; draft a vision statement and craft A Call to Action that includes some fundamental actions and required funding.

    Very respectfully

  3. We are constantly thinning trees in Sunriver, my concern are the stumps that are left and from what I’ve read, they should be removed. Please let me know your thoughts and if there’s any current fire science about the importance of stump removal.

    • There are no concerns from a fire behavior standpoint in leaving stumps behind. Removing them would be very costly and cause unneeded and likely detrimental soil disturbance.

        • Hi Kathy – The article you posted is an advertisement for stump grinding by a UK company that grinds stumps. While there may be personal aesthetic preferences for why you might remove stumps near your home, there is no reason to do so in a forest. I respond to each of their points below:

          1. Removal of Fuel Sources:
          Stump grinding converts 1,000-hour fuels into smaller particles that are much more likely to carry fire. Grinding stumps would make fire concerns worse not better.

          2. Reducing Fire Spread:
          Stumps do not act as an ignition point. Go outside and put a lighter to a stump of any large diameter log. It won’t catch on fire. When you build a campfire you start with small twigs and grass (1 hr fuels) and work your way up to adding logs. Stumps are not a factor in fire spread.

          3. Promoting Forest Health:
          Removing stump creates unnecessary soil disturbance which would further spread invasive species. The timber harvest that occurred originally reduced the number of trees. This allows for more water to be available to the remaining trees making them more resilient to death by inspects like bark beetles. Grinding stumps does not promote forest health.

          4. Improved Forest Access:
          Yes, removing stumps would increase access to allow firefighters to drive through the woods. Firefighters should not be driving through the woods! It is an unnecessary risk and outside of the silly NJ state fire service, isn’t done.

          Forest Management and Stump Grinding:
          1. Reforestation:
          Stumps are often used in reforestation as they provide a shaded microclimate that helps seedlings grow. Go out in a stand that has been reforested and you will see that many of the stumps will have a seedling on the north side of a stump. Removing stumps would detrimentally impact reforestation efforts.

          2. Enhanced Timber Harvesting:
          Not an issue.

          3. Soil Health:
          Stump grinding increases risk of invasive species and is detrimental to soil health. Grinding stumps does not improve soil health.

          • Patrick F. this reminds me that in some places, folks used to sprinkle something on stumps to reduce the spread of some root disease (was it Fomes annosus (which changed names maybe) or Armillaria? Anyway, how would the stump grinding affect that? or have people stopped doing that?

            • Some fire salvage projects had a requirement to apply borax to the larger tree stumps. In Sale Administration, that was one thing we had to inspect and document.

              I have also worked on projects that had variable stump heights, in areas of visual concern. Maximum stump height was always 1 foot on the uphill side, unless there are safety issues involved with felling.

            • Yes, borax is applied to cut stumps to prevent the spread of annosus root disease. It is still done – I am familiar with it mostly where live trees are cut. There is a lot of discussion in pathology circles about whether or not it needs to be used in some areas. Unless the stump is ground up completely (no stump remaining), stump grinding would not replace borax treatment since the spores land on the rooted stump and then get into the roots and spread via contact below ground.

          • Thank you so much for clarifying! I was worried the stumps may increase the ground flammability and be in direct opposition of our Fire Wise goals. I agree they are unsightly but may be able to be trimmed closer to the ground. I’m sure Portland’s original name of Stump Town referred to its unsightliness at the time!

  4. Stephen Pyne in the Pyrocene says first fire was 420 million years ago. Humans have been creating and trying to manage fire for all their time on earth.

  5. They mention HFRA.. but there was some kind of old growth effort around the same time.. that’s when I wrote my old growth song for a retirement party.. it’s to the tune of “They Call the Wind Maria” from the movie “Paint Your Wagon” :
    Way out out west
    We’ve got a place
    For big and fat and old trees
    We’ll draw a line around the place
    So they don’t become sold trees.
    Reserves.. Reserves.. We call those “areas” reserves.

    But old trees die and then fall down
    And we’ve got premonitions
    But we’ll do fine, we’ll move the line
    Or change the definitions..

    Reserves.. Reserves.. We call those “areas” reserves.

    Extra points to anyone who remembers who the retirement party was for. It was the guy who was in (what was then) Timber Management and worked on old growth.. I’d know the name if someone said it.

    Anyway “Paint Your Wagon” (1969) was filmed on both the W-W and the San Bernardino:

    “As it turns out, the location is the movie’s only real asset. ‘No Name City’, the goldrush shanty town, was built at East Eagle Creek, up in northeast Oregon, near to Baker City, within the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

    More scenes were filmed at Holcomb Valley, a short drive north of Big Bear Lake, located in the real gold country of the San Bernardino National Forest (it’s claimed that more gold per square mile was taken out of Holcomb Valley than anywhere else in southern California).”

    • Hi Sharon: This is the first time I have visited the Smokey Wire in a few months, for reasons I was planning to post (“The Elliott”), so this evening I thought I would check in and catch up on the current discussions. Your reference to “Paint Your Wagon” was a total surprise!

      Earlier this evening a long-time friend from an Alsea logging family — and country musician — mentioned this as one of his favorite movies. I worked as an extra on the set on Eagle Creek out of Baker during that summer, which resulted in some conversations and memories of this movie — which I have only seen once, on VHS about 20 years later. Strange reminiscing about this event and the people involved only an hour or two before reading your parody!

      No idea who the retirement party was for, and surprised I can’t recall the 2004 event. And I will be posting on the Elliott and on old-growth in the near future.

  6. I cut meat in high school (1980’s) in John Day for my gas and beer money. One of my jobs was to remove the expired meat from the meat aisle and, after adding boxed bull meat and suet for bulk and appearance, grind it into burger for resale. To this day, I refuse to purchase ground beef from a supermarket.

    That’s what most of these contemporary “restoration” initiatives look like to me now as a career biologist 38 years or so in and as a landowner. Beaver dam analogs, large wood placement, carbon sequestration, and forest “resiliency” all look and smell like fresh ground beef but really aren’t, no matter how many “inclusive” or “equitable” adjectives are attached.

    New, shiny, enlightened, progressive “discoveries” are the goal of the day, whether it’s the latest initiative of the conservation industrial complex or pronouns and most of which, again from my cynical (or at least curmudgeonly) perspective, are designed for perception politics rather than tangible, positive resource achievement.

    And with regards specifically to “forest resiliency”, as a small private woodland owner, it’s become yet one more example of how on-the-ground management looks on paper from many miles away when your actual goal is exaction of private finances and services for the primary benefit of a totalitarian, centralized government and a few chosen “winners”.

    • It’s not hard to imagine a profit-seeking venture hiding the truth, and I agree that many people (and the media) are attracted to shiny new things (even when they are just repurposed old ones). I can also imagine that “resiliency,” which is a predictor of long-term ecological sustainability might not align with the profit motive of a private landowner.

      But “primary benefit of a totalitarian, centralized government and a few chosen “winners”?” There’s been some illuminating reporting recently on conspiracy theories, e.g.

      It’s also hard to apply this quote to our current dysfunctional federal government. (However, Trump has promised to do totalitarian, centralized government and a few chosen winners perfectly.)

      • Conspiracy theory? It’s difficult to tell whether you are joking or just trying to be insulting. I may a wear a tinfoil hat but it certainly doesn’t cover my eyes.

        Off the top of my head, I’m not aware of any program, initiative, agency or regulation that I’ve worked with professionally over the last 38 years that hasn’t become both centralized and totalitarian, certainly within natural resources at the federal level and particularly within the near-communist state of Oregon. I don’t know how anyone, especially someone who professes long-term, on-the-ground exposure to implementation, could argue, with any credibility, anything differently.

        It was, however, under the Trump administration that authority and responsibility for certain programs were pushed back to states or down to local levels. Quite the opposite under Clinton, Obama, and Biden, in my experience.

        Even if you dismiss the first-hand testimony of people who have worked at the end of the implementation chain for decades, I would suggest that comparing statutory volume and content, agency staffing and location, NGO characteristics and financing, and a number of other metrics would all evidence the movement toward centralization and totalitarianism.

        Regardless, show me one of these new, resource improvement inventions and I bet I can find something in our history that looks pretty similar–notwithstanding the contemporary attachment of catchy labels.

        • Shaun, “conspiracy theories” in some folks’ views are “things that are true or at least worthy of more investigation ,but key groups don’t want to acknowledge them right now”; e.g. the lab leak and Covid. Kind of like “misinformation” can be “things key groups don’t agree with.”

          I think when people come up with new expressions, we have to wonder if their use helps clarify and leads to better dialogue, or serves to divide into the “appliers of the new word” and what we might call “those to whom the new word is applied”.

          Speaking of new abstractions, you might be interested in this dialogue on TwitX to replace “non-timber forest products” (which I agree has problems), with “environmental products are tangible biotic and abiotic goods gathered from any biome or created through synthetic production.” and for whom these definitions are supposed to be helpful.

          • Certainly; I agree. This context, including the linked article, may require reading it as applying a label to dismiss the person in order to dismiss the person’s argument without consideration. “Trumper”, “climate denier”, “right wing” are frequently used, as I suspect here, for that purpose.

            “Totalitarian” and “centralized governance” have specific meaning and, while they may be an exaggeration in certain policy circumstances, may also describe accurately a considerable number, if not majority, of contemporary circumstances. I certainly can’t think of many things I do on a daily basis that aren’t heavily regulated by the State, most often from far away. I don’t think you’d find much argument for that fact even from the local bureaucrats.

            Regardless, I see little difference between the lack of substance in, for lack of a better term, “woke” initiatives, whether they are diesel standards in rural communities, beaver dam analogues, or identifying 86 different gender pronouns. Furthermore, I believe that a considerable number of all these emerging initiatives from all facets of our society, are all reflective of this generations’ interest in disposing of the past in favor of the “new”.

          • These terms have definitions, per Webster:

            Conspiracy theory – “a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators”

            “Totalitarian (inherently secret), centralized government” fits that definition. I wouldn’t make the assumption that decentralized is not totalitarian – in fact, I’d suspect it tends to be less tolerant of minority views. Our governments at the federal and state levels also have laws that discourage secrecy. (I agree we could debate whether a particular conspiracy theory is true.)

            Misinformation – “incorrect or misleading information”

            This implies something is not supported by the facts. This can be proven.

            • Those are great definitions, Jon, but the way they are used it is obvious the energy is to dismiss these views rather than to engage with the person who holds them. Why don’t people say “I disagree with your views” instead of “you are spreading misinformation.” Or how about, “I disagree, and here’s why…”

              • When people say “you are spreading misinformation,” I think they are also saying “I disagree with your facts,” so (in cases where the facts have been pretty clearly established) there isn’t much point in discussing your views that are based on erroneous facts.

                • I don’t know many cases that we are discussing that there are clear “facts” that have been established. But we can look at that going forward.

                  • Apparently Shaun thought there were examples within the range of what “we are discussing.” Outside of that, Exhibit A would probably be what we all witnessed on January 6 vs what some people think happened instead. There’s no point in debating who was at fault with someone who thinks it was a bunch of tourists.

                • Just to be sure, BOTH sides have pushed misinformation on like-minded people who don’t know any better.

                  It used to be ‘the preservationists’ who made up stuff to generate dollars and slant mindsets. Now, we’ve seen quite a bit of concessions from ‘the left’ about public forests, and that must be recognized.

                  There is plenty of rhetoric and misinformation about forests, coming from ‘the right’, these days. I often see claims like, “the environmentalists have shutdown logging since 1990”. If I correct anyone saying that, then I become an enemy. There are all sorts of goofy claims going around. My favorite conspiracy theory involves “Jewish Space Lasers” as igniting so many wildfires at one time. (Never mind WHY “they”, usually the “Deep State”, which is a handy container to put all your enemies into) would do such a thing.

                  I am constantly amazed at what people will believe, these days…. other than science. Remember, though, that there ARE some people out there, knowingly telling lies to people, about almost everything.

            • First, there’s no readily accepted definition of “totalitarian” that includes the word “secret”; that’s your fabrication and a continuation of your pejorative false labeling of opposing arguments that you can’t or won’t dispute with facts.

              Secondly, perhaps the only way to reply to the obvious and self-evident evolution of state/federal governance towards totalitarianism is with logic fallacies–not just your ad hominem attacks but also your converse logic and red herring statements.

              Regardless, the erosion of federalism and territorial democracy is hardly a “conspiracy theory” or secret and anyone who disbelieves that should refresh their memory of the democrat’s COVID response and how all their other agendas (e.g., ESA, WOTUS, border security at the federal level; DEI, education standards, land use regulations and etc.) start looking familiar to that extreme apex example.

    • Sharon – here is where this started: The alleged “actual goal” of “forest resiliency” is the “benefit of a totalitarian, centralized government and a few chosen ‘winners.'” My point is that you can’t debate the merits of “resiliency” with someone who thinks it’s part of a conspiracy.

      Any way, here is part of that “conspiracy.” “The authors developed this working definition: “Resilience is a measure of the forest’s adaptability to a range of stresses and reflects the functional integrity of the ecosystem.” They also found that a common forestry tool — the Stand Density Index, or SDI — is effective for assessing a forest’s resilience.”,for%20assessing%20a%20forest's%20resilience.

      This study was for the southern Sierras, but the principle is the SDI (“More than a century ago” + climate change) for the relevant ecosystem. I don’t know if there is much disagreement about this as a goal for federal lands in comparison to the disagreement about how to get there.

      • Jon, sorry I don’t agree with that definition. First of all, resilience is a noun. You don’t need to add a y. Unless it really is something different.
        There is the common kind of English view of resilience.. ability to bounce back from stressors. It doesn’t need to “reflect the functional integrity” whatever that means. SDI alone can’t “assess the forest’s resilience”. Trees are not forest ecosystems, but without trees it’s not a forest. I’d say that (tree) species diversity is also important for resilience, where that occurs. Certainly SDI is good for drought and wildfire stressors, but there could be other stressors, say bark beetles in LPP.

        I don’t agree with Shaun either the “benefit of a totalitarian, centralized government and a few chosen ‘winners” but I think I understand where he’s coming from.

      • Not any more difficult than debating someone who has to parse someone else’s statements in order to reply with a false narrative constructed with multiple logic fallacies, including your latest–proof through assertion–rather than respond with facts. Your falsehood that I believe in a conspiracy theory has as much relevance as if you’d simply responded by calling me a racist, misogynist or transphobe.

        My first point was that these contemporary restoration initiatives are mostly just a rehash of old programs, rejuvenated largely with meaningless adjectives and infused with superficial language. You chose not to respond to that point, which I still stand by.

        My second point (that you selected a few words from in order to apply your fabricated definition of totalitarian and thereby assigning some defect to my personal character) was this:

        “And with regards specifically to “forest resiliency”, as a small private woodland owner, it’s become yet one more example of how on-the-ground management looks on paper from many miles away when your actual goal is exaction of private finances and services for the primary benefit of a totalitarian, centralized government and a few chosen “winners”.”

        Since I’m a woodland owner in Oregon, it goes with out saying that my perspective is from Oregon and on private lands but, also as I stated, I’d be happy to debate other initiatives, such as WOTUS or ESA relative to the same claim of totalitarianism.

        Regardless, on my deeded ground, there is literally nothing I can do relative to vegetative management without requiring some form of approval or oversight from State government (I’m not even supposed to use a lawn mower or weed eater without an annual operating permit). Any type of commercial activity requires payment of fees, assessments, and taxes merely for the “privilege” (that’s literally what its called) of harvesting my own wood products. In addition, I have the privilege of paying an annual assessment to the State of 74% of my entire property tax for “fire protection”, which now includes DEI training and a host of other initiatives related only to the philosophical ideology of Oregon democrats and their chosen allies who are primarily interested in social redesign of Oregon’s rural communities. Those exactions are levied through institutional extortion–if you don’t comply, you are penalized in various forms, some meted out in the extreme. Although I have the right of appealing a couple of these levies, every assessment appeal that I’m aware of that has ever been filed has been summarily dismissed by the body that institutes all the rules and programs in the first place. New legislation, such as the travesty referred to as the “Forest Accords” is passed with “emergency language” so that it cannot be challenged by the people. Oregon’s democrat supermajority ensures that any effective opposition is stifled, to the point that opposition testimony has even been prohibited in certain bill hearings. Current laws and rules (which are incessantly promulgated by the agencies) covering every aspect of private forest management run to thousands of pages, written by lawyers for the benefit of lawyers, crafting a scope of laws and regulations where an operator can always be found violating something if someone so desires. Where historically we had management of limited and focused State rules administered at the field office level in a cooperative (and, by many accounts, effective) manner, now everything is designed in-and directed from-Salem by disconnected bureaucrats with little latitude given to field agents. There is no accounting of-or recompense for-any of the broad and excellent ecological services that the public enjoys at my expense, rather, the State takes my tributes, slicks their cut off the top, and redistributes the remainder to their chosen few who align with their belief system.

        I fail to see how this progression is anything but a movement towards totalitarianism, the definition of which is: “a system of government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state”, even if you were to rationalize totalitarianism as ensuring consistency, equity or protecting the greater public good.

        Regardless, it’s clear that you don’t read for the purpose of trying to understand but rather for the purpose of responding, which makes most social media conversations pointless.

        • I read and write here partly to facilitate discussion, and it’s interesting to hear your beliefs (although this has gotten away from federal land management, where I agree that “resilience/y” is nothing new, but don’t see it as a boogeyperson). Some of this sounds factual; some like more conspiratorial thinking. If it were on-topic for this blog, I would be interested in the facts supporting “democrats and their chosen allies who are primarily interested in social redesign of Oregon’s rural communities” and “redistributes the remainder to their chosen few who align with their belief system.” (“Chosen” seems to be a red flag for conspiracies.)


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