Saturday, July 7, 2007

Fire is Fire

I recently visited a site in central Oregon where prescribed fire had been used last fall to reduce the amount of fuel and to reintroduce fire into a stand after 100 years or so of exclusion. There was a lot of fuel in the stand and the fire folks did a great, but it did get pretty hot.

It's interesting to me to walk around a burned stand, particularly with all the controversy in the western US about what to do after a fire. The forest that used to be there is changed. It's beautiful in its own way--snags standing and creaking as the wind blows them. Charred logs, scorched trunks and crowns, just shadows of burned logs on the ground--like the shadows of people at Hiroshima that I've seen in pictures. Fire is fire.

New things are growing. Seedlings, mosses, lichens, all sorts of bugs. The land isn't barren. Life isn't gone. It wasn't a catastrophe. No one died. Who knows what will be here 10 or 35 or 100 or 1000 years from now. Another fire? Insect infestation? Invading plant species? Off road recreation? Housing development? There are new roads not taken every day for this forest.

That's where I come down on it.

No comments: