Central Oregon Fire Environment

Fire plays a vital role in our local environment. Many plants and animals have evolved to live with wildfire to create habitat, open seeds, and reduce competition for resources. Prior to the settlement that occurred in the late 1800s, fire frequently burned through and played a prominent part in ponderosa pine and shrub-steppe habitat, and less frequently moved through our mixed conifer and high-elevation stands.

 After more than a century of fire suppression, forests and rangelands in central Oregon are showing the effects. Open shrub-steppe habitat has been converted to juniper-occupied stands and ponderosa pine stands have become dense and unhealthy.

Lodgepole pine forest filled with tinder dry fuels At the same time our lodgepole pine stands are dying from insect and disease instead of wildfire, and the higher-elevation forest stands are becoming less diverse and more likely to support a large wildfire like the B&B fire that consumed thousands of acres in 2003. The wildfires seen in the 21st century are larger, more severe and more frequent than wildfires seen in the previous century, and they threaten the lives and property of the people living and recreating in the central Oregon area.

Public land managers now consider the role of wildfire when planning vegetation and fuels reduction projects. Although one objective may be to reduce the amount of vegetation to protect lives and property in the urban interface, fuels projects are also seen as a means to maintain and improve forest and rangeland health by recycling nutrients, decreasing competition for water and sunlight, increasing resistance to insects and disease, and creating a natural mosaic of vegetation across the landscape.

Click here to view Hazardous Fuels Reduction - A Photo Story

Want to learn more? Please follow the links below!

Prescribed Fire in central Oregon - also known as 'Rx Fire', it's a fire prescription for the forest

Mechanized Fuels Treatments - Thinning, mowing and other methods to reduce the fuels in the forest

Hazardous Fuels Reductions - Central Oregon Success Stories!

  • GW Fire - Previous fuels reduction projects cut back the impact of the 2007 GW Fire
  • Incident 595 - Another success thanks to fuels reductions