August Ecology Club: What is the Future of Fire in the Cascades?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019 - 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Join us on the second Wednesday of each month to discuss an ecological theme that pertains to Bark’s work on Mt Hood or seasonal skills to give the community a deeper appreciation and understanding of NW ecology. 
In August, we're excited to invite Andy McEvoy to present his research on forest fire in the Cascade Range. Andy is a Masters student at Portland State University in the Department of Environmental Science and Management. His research focuses on modeling future fire activity in west-side Cascade forests and he is eager for his work to help communities better plan for future conditions. Before coming to Oregon, Andy managed a community forest in mid-coast Maine where he worked with community members to integrate restoration forestry with recreation, conservation, and environmental education. 
Large fires occur infrequently in Pacific Northwest forests because of limitations imposed by climate, not by fuel availability. In west-side Cascade forests, large wildfire occurrence has been historically coincident with uncommon windows of especially dry climate conditions immediately preceding and during the fire event. Climate change is predicted to increase the number of days each summer during which fuels are sufficiently dry for large fires to be possible. Understanding future fire activity can inform strategic efforts to prioritize restoration strategies, protect habitat, and mitigate risk to source water and human infrastructure. A team of interdisciplinary researchers at Portland State University have been working with Clackamas River Water Providers and Clackamas County on a climate resilience analysis for the Clackamas River Watershed. This presentation will highlight preliminary results from that study, focusing on future climate and wildfire in the region. Early results from our analysis indicate that projected changes in future temperature and relative humidity will have a significant impact on future wildfire behavior. Currently there is less than 1% chance of a fire growing larger than 50,000 acres; projections indicate that by mid-century that probability is nearly 5%, a 7x increase.
At the close of the meeting we will leave time open to further explore the topics of the evening, delve deeper into Bark's work to protect Mt Hood, and browse the Bark library. Our library is more than a physical space; it is also intangible, represented by volunteers who are knowledgeable and accessible for people interested in learning more about our work, ecology, public lands management and advocacy. Come peruse our newly acquired selection of resources on everything from hiking to climate justice and learn about what you can do to protect Mt. Hood National Forest!
Ecology Club meets every third Wednesday at the Bark office: 351 NE 18th Ave, Portland, OR 97232. Call us at 503.331.0374 or email
vertical photo of smoke billowing into the sky from a coniferous forest taken in 2010 at the Fire Lake Complex