Fire

Educational Resources

Approximately 400,000 acres on the Gifford Pinchot, Mt. Hood, Willamette, Umpqua, and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forests were impacted by wildfire in 2020. Learn more about the impacts of wildfires, why we restrict access after a wildfire, and ongoing post-fire recovery work.

 

Wildfire Impacts and Recovery

A graphic with trees and roots that shows how do wildfires weaken and kill treesHow Wildfires Weaken and Kill Trees

Intense wildfires often result in standing dead and fire-weakened danger trees. These danger trees can fall unpredictably, causing injury or death to people and damage property or infrastructure. Because fires can weaken trees in many ways, it can be difficult to determine if a tree is hazardous or structurally sound by looking at the canopy alone. 

 

 

A graphic that shows a wildfire recovery timeline including long-term restorationWildfire Recovery Timeline

Fire recovery is a long, multi-year process. The scope and scale of the 2020 Labor Day fires was unprecedented and therefore, the scope and scale of fire recovery is also very large. Learn the steps we are taking to assess damage, protect public safety, and mitigate further resource impacts.

 

 

 

 

 

A graphic that shows a wildfire recovery timeline including long-term restoration

Wildfire Recovery Timeline

Fire recovery is a long, multi-year process. The scope and scale of the 2020 Labor Day fires was unprecedented and therefore, the scope and scale of fire recovery is also very large. Learn the steps we are taking to assess damage, protect public safety, and mitigate further resource impacts.

Graphic showing the different levels of burn severity after a wildfire.

Fire Mosaic

The 2020 wildfires burned in what is called a "mosaic pattern", with some areas burned very hot while other areas were skipped or had a low-intensity underburn with no trees killed.  Roads in burned areas have varying levels of fire-killed or injured danger trees depending on how severely the fire burned in the area. Due to the mosaic pattern, there are road sections where there are no danger trees, others with scattered individuals or small groups of danger trees, and more where all trees within striking distance of the road were killed by the wildfire. 


Access to Fire-Impacted Areas

Text over a road that explains how they are a working landscape.

Forest Roads: A Working Landscape

Part of the Forest Service's responsibility for keeping forest roads safe includes the mitigation of danger trees. Removing these fire-weakened and killed trees along roads provides access to the forest for many user groups, including contractors, partner agencies, and researchers focused on wildfire repair and recovery. If danger trees along roads are not removed, we cannot reopen the forest roads. Indefinite road closures would impact wildfire recovery efforts, local communities, utility companies, tourism economies, and private landowners. 

Graphic showing why the roads are closed after a wildfire

Why Are Roads Closed After a Wildfire?

Many public lands that burned in 2020 are still closed to public access. We are working hard to safely reopen roads and facilities. Please recreate responsibly by respecting fire closures. They are in place for the safety of the public, to protect natural resources, and to allow critical repair work to be accomplished quickly and efficiently.

Graphic showing how road access in fire-impacted areas benefits future wildfire suppression efforts.
Access Benefits Future Wildfire Suppression Efforts

Road access is critical for on-the-ground wildland firefighting efforts. When fire-weakened or killed danger trees block or line the road, firefighters cannot respond as quickly or as safely to incidents. Felling these danger trees ensures continued access for wildfire suppression, recovery, and reforestation efforts.
 
Graphic showing why wildfire closures are in effect

Closures in Fire-Impacted Areas

Our highest priority is human health and safety and we will not reopen recreation sites until we are assured all hazards have been satisfactorily mitigated and sites have been rebuilt to safely accommodate visitors. As soon as it’s safe and hazards are mitigated, trail crews and volunteers will be working hard to clear, rebuild, repair, and stabilize trails and recreation sites. If your favorite place is closed or impacted by wildfires, take the opportunity to explore and discover new places in Oregon and Washington.

 

Roadside Danger/Hazard Tree Removal

A text graphic that shows frequently asked questions to danger tree removal
 

Frequently Asked Questions: Danger Tree Removal

Danger tree removal is first and foremost intended to reduce risk to people. Learn more about how we are quickly, safely, and efficiently removing danger trees along roads to ensure life safety.

A graphic that shows why danger trees are an issue. A photo shows burned trees next to a road.
 

Managing Danger Trees

Fire-killed or weakened trees along roads pose a safety risk to the public, employees, and infrastructure. While the vast majority of the forest inside the burn perimeters will receive no danger tree removal, it is our responsibility to remove these danger trees along roads so that we can quickly and safely reopen them for public and employee use.

A document that lists safety concerns of danger trees

Safety First – Danger Trees

Removing fire-weakened danger trees along roads allows employees and contractors safe access for repair and restoration work, including reforestation and erosion control projects which can mitigate additional fire-related impacts to the forest. Danger tree removal along roads also allows the public access to a fire-impacted area. A closed area will not be re-opened to the public if danger trees pose an imminent or likely threat. 

 

Return to the 2020 Wildfire Recovery landing page.