Pole Creek Fire Recovery

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Presentation from Deschutes Land Trust's Nature Night series. Maret Pajutee talks about fire and fire recovery after 2012's Pole Creek Fire near Sisters, Oregon. Maret is the District Ecologist for the Sisters Ranger District in Deschutes National Forest.

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  • Natural is a word we all like to use but what does it mean?
  • Historic accounts tell the story
  • Build up of pine needles and bark around old growth pine
  • Sisters has one of the steepest rain gradients in the world from Santiam Pass to Sisters
  • High elevation forests burn at high intensity
  • B&B Fire 2003 However in the past few summers- this is often been the view we see
  • Formation of a fire scar during the B&B Fire
  • We ’ve looked at Fire History in areas like the Metolius Basin
  • Many of these pink areas have burned
  • We can ’t just let fire burn, but we can place fire lines strategically
  • Lupine on Eyerly Fire 2 years after
  • Eyerly Fire 2002
  • Pole Creek Fire Recovery

    1. 1. After the Pole Creek Fire Effects and Lessons fromFire 10 years of Big Fires in Sisters Maret Pajutee District Ecologist Sisters Ranger District Deschutes National Forest - US Forest Service
    2. 2. Fire is a natural process ineastside forests
    3. 3. But what is“Natural” ?
    4. 4. Historic accounts tell of frequent fire “When I came to eastern Oregon in 1905… each summer there were many wildfires… caused by lightning. As there was no underbrush, these fires consumed nothing but the dead pine needles, cones and twigs… the little blaze only a few inches high crept slowly over the ground… but did no damage whatever to green trees.” Dr Urling Coe, Frontier Doctor
    5. 5. Fire suppression• Began with European settlement• Fire Lookouts staffed since early 1900
    6. 6. Good Fire?
    7. 7. Bad Fire?
    8. 8. Weather Patterns Insects and Disease Rainfall Gradient Its Fire SuppressionClimate Change Complicated! Past Timber Harvest Aspect and Slope Forest Type
    9. 9. Rainfall Gradient
    10. 10. Forest types & Fire regimes vary with elevation and moistureFire Regime=Frequency onany given acre5 different Fire Regimes are present
    11. 11. Fire Regime 5High elevation –High Severity,Low frequency >200 years
    12. 12. Missed 0-? Fire cycles
    13. 13. Fire Regime 4Lodgepole pine –High Severity Think Lower frequency,reset forest stands Yellowstone 35-100+ years
    14. 14. Missed 0-3 Fire cycles
    15. 15. Fire Regime 3Mixed Conifer -Mixed Severity,Mixed frequency35-100+ years
    16. 16. Mixed Severity firecreates diverse forestswith complex patterns Missed 0-3 Fire cycles
    17. 17. Fire Regime 2Grasslands- Mixed and highseverity, high frequency fire0-35 years Missed 3 or more Fire cycles
    18. 18. Fire Regime 1Ponderosa Pine- low intensity,high frequency fire0-35 years
    19. 19. Missed 3-10or more Fire cycles
    20. 20. Fire Scars tell the stor y
    21. 21. Fire is… a part of life in Central Oregon ‘ and always will be.
    22. 22. FIRE NAME YEAR ACRESNO NAME 232ABBOT CREEK 60SUGAR PINE 36 3 fires - 328 acres
    23. 23. FIRE NAME YEAR ACRESLAKE CREEK D-5 1911 1,945SUGARPINE RIDGE 1914 1,152 2 fires - 3097 acres
    24. 24. FIRE NAME YEAR ACERSWASCO LAKE 1924 2,480BLUE LAKE 1928 73 2 fires - 2553 acres
    25. 25. FIRE NAME YEAR ACRESDUGOUT LAKE 1930 636 1 fires - 636 acres
    26. 26. FIRE NAME YEAR ACRESMINTO PASS 1945 4921 1 fire - 4921 acres
    27. 27. No fires
    28. 28. FIRE NAME YEAR ACRESROUND LAKE 1960 83BIG LAKE AIRSTRIP 1967 3,412 2 fires - 3495 acres
    29. 29. FIRE NAME YEAR ACRESSUGARPINE RIDGE 1975 74 1 fire - 74 acres
    30. 30. NAME YEAR ACRESBLACK BUTTE 1981 235BRUSH CREEK 1987 422CABOT LAKE 1987 3,030CANYON CREEK 1989 133 4 fire - 3820 acres
    31. 31. FIRE NAME YEAR ACRESGEORGE LAKE 1991 161JEFFERSON 1996 3,689SQUARE LAKE 1998 113CACHE 1999 382DUGOUT 1999 17 5 fire - 4362 acres
    32. 32. FIRE NAME YEAR ACRESCACHE MTN 2002 3,886LINK 2003 3,590B AND B COMPLEX 2003 90,682LAKE GEORGE 2006 5,533 4 fire – 103,691 acres
    33. 33. 43% of the Sisters Ranger Districthas burnedsince 2002
    34. 34. Acres Burned by Decade 120,000 100,000 80,000 WHY?Acres Burned 60,000 40,000 20,000 0 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s Decades
    35. 35. Is it his fault?
    36. 36. Weather Patterns Insects and Disease Fire Regimes Its Fire SuppressionClimate Change Complicated! Timber Harvest Forest/Urban Interface Developments Changing values
    37. 37. FIRE NAME YEAR ACRESCACHE MTN 2002 3,886LINK 2003 3,590B AND B COMPLEX 2003 90,682LAKE GEORGE 2006 5,533 4 fire – 103,691 acres
    38. 38. From 1998-2009- 70,000 acres diedMissed 0-3 Fire CyclesNarrow band next to mixed conifer forests Lodgepole at end of lifespanMortality east of Three Creeks
    39. 39. Pole Creek Fire 2012
    40. 40. Let it burn?*Why did you!?*Why don’t you!?
    41. 41. Backfires off Road 16
    42. 42. A Changed Landscape
    43. 43. Pole Creek Fire Effects• Total fire size- 26,183 acres• Headwaters Whychus Creek o 42% burned, 4327 acres• Upper Whychus Creek o 54% burned, 4114 acreso Total Vegetation Mortality o 10,303 ac Stand replacement- 39% o 9,374 ac Mixed severity- 36% o 6,505 ac Low- 25%o Soil erosion hazard o Moderate to high -6800 acres or 26%
    44. 44. Burned Area Emergency Rehab Concerns• Steep burned slopes with Moderate/High soil burn severity• Potential road damage and washouts• Sediment into Whychus Creek and the Deschutes River• Risk of Invasive plants
    45. 45. • Loss of interception of snow and rain • Loss of evapo-transporation • Loss of soil cover • More water flowImpacts to Riparian Areas & Forests
    46. 46. Already seeing Higher Flows• 6 of top 11 peak flows in 102 years (1999-2009) • More Rain on Snow • Mortality in lodgepole forest
    47. 47. Prepare for a landscaperunning
    48. 48. The Dream of Fish Re-introduction
    49. 49. • Spawn February- April• Floods in March/April- wash away eggs• Sediment affects survivalConcerns for Steelhead Spawning
    50. 50. • 37 % of Pole Creek riparian and wetland forests burned moderate to high severity.• 61 % of Snow Creek riparian and wetland forests burned moderate to high severity.
    51. 51. Snow Creek Subwatershed
    52. 52. Lower Snow Creek
    53. 53. Whychus Creek at Rd 151435% Riparian reserves had High/Moderatesoil burn severity
    54. 54. Pole Creek Spring
    55. 55. South Fork Whychus• 65% riparian areas- low, unburned, soil burn severity
    56. 56. Mixed Burn nearwetland meadows
    57. 57. Interactions with Old Fires
    58. 58. Mixed Severity Burns
    59. 59. Mosaic Patterns
    60. 60. SpotsSpotting distance ½ mile
    61. 61. Low Severity Burns
    62. 62. ???
    63. 63. Watershed Analysis Trends?• Disturbance • Botany-• Vegetation Weeds• Hydrology • Roads• Soils • Scenery• Fish • Social• Wildlife
    64. 64. Fire/Disturbance• High elevation forests- – Fire intensity “natural” – But bigger than historic Fire sizes due to Fire suppression• The more fire cycles missed- the more risk to ecosystem components• Decreased fire risk for 5 years• Increased fuel loading as snags fall (5-60 years)
    65. 65. Fire/Disturbance• Research Modeling predicts: – More Fires – Hotter Fires – Larger Fires – Longer fire seasons – Migration of forest types • From: Greaves, HE. 2012
    66. 66. Black Butte 2 reburn 2009Black Butte Fire 1981 (28 years)
    67. 67. Canyon Creek Fire 2012• B&B Fire area re-burn (9 years)• Lower fire intensities• 6-10 foot shrubs• Standing & down wood
    68. 68. • Restore natural process• Reduce risk of high intensity fires coming out of wilderness• Willamette and Deschutes proposal• Scoping in ProgressPrescribed Fire in the Wilderness?
    69. 69. SOILS Increased: •Sediment delivery from roads •Erosion from loss of soil cover •Erosion from increased peak flows or flood events
    70. 70. Wood Straw- GW Fire 2007
    71. 71. WATER QUALITY • More Peak Flows- flood events • Warmer water temperatures • Short term nutrient increase in water for 4-6 years (nitrates & phosphorus)
    72. 72. Candle Creek -2012• 9 year recovery
    73. 73. Forest Vegetation• Larger landscape patches that more closely resemble historic landscape patterns• Loss of connectivity• Loss of interior forest habitats• Increase in early seral habitats
    74. 74. Forests do recover• Can accelerate by planting where seed sources are gone – 30,000 acres planted on B&B• Monitor natural regeneration• Allow most areas to regenerate naturally
    75. 75. Shadow Lake 2011 & Link Fire 2003
    76. 76. 9 years after Link Fire - 2003
    77. 77. Recovery ofNative Plants
    78. 78. No Need to Seed
    79. 79. 2003 2004 20062005
    80. 80. Fire behavior canbe altered bythinning
    81. 81. BEFORE THINNING AFTER THINNINGAFTER POLE CREEK FIRE
    82. 82. Best results come from thinning followed by Prescribed Fire• Issues-smoke, risk of escape, visuals
    83. 83. FISH?
    84. 84. Bull Trout Habitat Changes After the B&B Fire More Instream Wood andCandle Creek- 2012 pools9 years after B&B
    85. 85. Jefferson Creek after B&B Fire • 49% riparian reserves burned • 8% riparian reserves had stand replacement
    86. 86. Jefferson Creek July Max Temperature 12 10July Max Temp C 8 6 4 2 B&B Fire 0 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 Year
    87. 87. B&BBull Trout after the B&B
    88. 88. Street Creek -Eyerly Fire 2002 Street Cr 64% Riparian reserves burned 37% Riparian reserves burned stand replacement
    89. 89. Street Creek- Eyerly Fire 2002
    90. 90. Street Creek -2004
    91. 91. Unstable banks• 11% before Eyerly Fire• 22% after Fire
    92. 92. Table 2. Percent fine sediment <2 mm and <5.7 mm averaged for all four sites in riffle and pool habitats. Water years prior to 2004 were below average. 2002 2003 2004* 2005Fines<2mm 25 23 28 (+3%) 27Fines<5.7mm 28 30 36 (+8%) 32 * p< 0.05
    93. 93. Large Instream Wood per mile before and after Eyerly Fire 50 small wood large wood reach 1 40pieces of wood /mile reach 2 30 20 10 0 1999 2002 1999 2002 pre-fire post-fire pre-fire post-fire
    94. 94. Fire may drive a temporary pulse in aquatic productivity• >Sunlight• >Nutrients• > Temp• >Plants• >Insects• >Fish and wildlife food From: Harris, et al, Idaho State University
    95. 95. WILDLIFE • Loss of moist forests and owl habitat and connectivity continuesSpotted Owls • 21 known owl sites down to 3
    96. 96. •Other species will thrive •WoodpeckersWILDLIFE •Big game •Upland Birds
    97. 97. WEEDS• Increase in Invasive plants• Spread of cheatgrass- very flammable
    98. 98. Roads• Unraveling roads• Hazard trees• Need to upsize or remove culverts• Continue to reduce road densities where appropriate – 71 miles of roads closed after B&B – 38 miles closed after Eyerly• Continue to implement Travel Management Plan
    99. 99. SOCIALIncreased understanding of urban interface wildfire risk Black Butte Ranch Cache Mountain Fire 2002
    100. 100. Homes were lost2 houses burned at Black Butte Ranch
    101. 101. Forest Urban/Interface
    102. 102. Are you Fire Safe?
    103. 103. Expectations of Fire Suppression
    104. 104. • Delays/Changes in trail access• Lag time for sign replacement• More hazardous trees and down trees• Trail erosion RECREATION
    105. 105. Trail maintenance issues 9 years after B&B
    106. 106. Changes in Visual Quality
    107. 107. Salvage projects willremain controversial• 4,000 acres of salvage in B&B• Road hazard tree salvage proposed for Pole Creek• Additional analysis underway
    108. 108. Continued opportunities forPublic Involvement & Partnership
    109. 109. What’s important to you in Whychus watershed?
    110. 110. Summary• Good Fire/Bad Fire? – Fires are a part of life in Central Oregon and will continue to occur. – Their effects and cycles vary. Its complicated!• We are working to restore conditions to reduce risks to people and ecosystems• We need your help and understanding. – Get involved with your public lands.
    111. 111. Thank you…

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