Track: Organized Oral Session
In 2020 multiple fast-moving wildfires burned 400,000 hectares Oregon, USA, destroying over 4,000 homes and resulting in many fatalities. The fires were rare but catastrophic events in the moist temperate forests of Oregon. Are the fires connected to climate change? Or do they arise from poor fuels management? And what effects do they leave on the ground, for people and forests? The 2020 wildfires raise poignant ecological and social questions, which resonate with many societies beyond the Pacific Northwest that face infrequent but highly consequential natural events. Their infrequent nature makes the events susceptible to a changing perspective and changing levels of readiness by society. How are we to think of these infrequent but large fires? What will the future bring, and are we prepared? The theme of this session is tackling the evolving perspectives on wildfires and its connections to the moist forests and its human residents. The purpose is to examine the connections between weather/climate and fire, forests, and people, and invigorate discussions in both the ecological and sociological arenas. We start with two in-depth examinations of the 2020 wildfires: an exploration of weather and climate; and an exploration of the long-term ecological context for the fires. Then we explore fires more generally, by examining how fires blow up, what fire severity patterns result and what refugia they leave behind. To examine the connections between wildfire, forests and human society, we examine how catastrophic fires intersect human infrastructure, both in urban and rural settings. Finally, we highlight an emerging dynamic, where invasive species create new connections between forests and non-forests on the forest mosaic landscape.
Presenting Author: Matthew J. Reilly – USDA Forest Service
Presenting Author: David E. Rupp – Oregon State University
Presenting Author: Rebecca Lemons – Oregon State University
Presenting Author: Cameron E. Naficy – Oregon State University
Presenting Author: Andrew McEvoy – USFS PNW ORISE Fellow
Presenting Author: Alex W. Dye – Oregon State University