Lessons from the Eagle Creek Fire

Bark: Defenders of Mt. Hood


My family and neighbors are still under a level 2 evacuation order in Corbett: Be ready to go at any time. A week and a half since the Eagle Creek fire started, the changing wind has reduced the danger of it running again in our direction. As families begin to return home in my community, my thoughts and well wishes are with those still under threat from the fire elsewhere.

Like you, I've seen much lamenting of the "loss" of the Gorge and its beauty. I too mourn the landscape I’ve come to know. However, I've also been reminded that these places are special because of fire. Fire is a natural disruption here, such is the nature of our amazing temperate rain forests. They are born in fire; they need fire for renewal. The Gorge will be lush and beautiful for future generations because of the fire. To help rebuild recreation access to this dynamic place, sign up to volunteer with Trail Keepers of Oregon or the Mazamas.

I'm grateful to Bark for educating me about fires. In recent days I’ve also found this old film about the Biscuit fire 10+ years ago in southern Oregon interesting to look at. It warns of post-fire destruction by "salvage logging." In the news this week, I heard some of Oregon's prominent decision-makers are calling to increase logging for "fuels reduction" - not heeding the science that shows that weather, not fuel, dictates fire behavior, and that logging releases more carbon than fires while also decreasing the forest's capacity to store carbon.

Don't let Oregon's leadership be science deniers! Take a moment to urge Rep. Michael Dembrow and Governor Kate Brown to use science about fire, climate change, and logging to inform their policy decisions.

We need our leaders working to build resilient communities, not advocating for false solutions that may sound good on paper, but have no basis in science and ecology.

Last week, carrying boxes in the middle of the night with ash falling around me, I thought of all the lives disrupted and dislocated because of climate change around the world. Despite the scary nature of that experience, I recognize I am privileged to have supportive social networks, insurance coverage, public resources, and live in the relatively stable climate of the Pacific Northwest. In that moment, I experienced heightened compassion for people weathering hurricanes in the Caribbean, displaced by the South Asian floods of recent weeks, trapped by flooding in the Houston-area, and all those who struggle daily against the global injustice that is climate change with less resources and greater impacts while bearing less responsibility for its origins than me.

In the coming years we’ll have the privilege to watch the wondrous regenerative ecosystem that is a forest after fire. We’ll also have the responsibility to help make sure that these natural processes are allowed to unfold without unnatural disruptions in pursuit of profit and to be vigilant in urging our decision-makers to advocate for climate justice.

Thank you for supporting Bark’s work to educate the public and protect the forest in all its many stages!

David Osborn, Bark’s Meeting Facilitator

 David Osborn for Bark






P.S. Bark's next  Radicle Activist Training is Intro to Forest Policy: Forest Fire Edition, I hope you'll come to learn more about fire's place in the managment of Mt. Hood National Forest.