Fighting fire with fire: Prescribed fire training returns to the Central Cascades this month. Firefighters and managers from nine organizations will learn how to apply prescribed burns safely to better manage our forests for health and resilience.
Writing and photo by Dr. Dave Shaw, Oregon State University
Ryan Haugo, a Nature Conservancy senior forest ecologist, hosted our graduate field forest-health class in the Manastash-Taneum Resilient Landscapes Project area in September. It was an epic visit that completely blew our minds.
Beginning with a stunning view of the Washington Cascades, Ryan introduced us to the Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative, which is implementing a scientifically based ecosystem-management plan for a complex terrain with mixed owners and ownership history. The landscape is rugged, showing recent fire impacts and is comprised of mixed conifer forests, which vary depending on elevation, aspect and soils.
The effort to use active management, such as forest thinning, planting and prescribed fire, to advance ecological integrity and biodiversity, is a classic example of forest-health management.
This is the application of knowledge gained by a group of interacting scientists and managers, led by the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Research Station, The Nature Conservancy and University of Washington scientists. It can be considered a test of current theories on how best to manage Eastside Cascades forests for the benefit of everyone.