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.
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
Fire suppression• Began with European settlement• Fire Lookouts staffed since early 1900
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%
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
• Loss of interception of snow and rain • Loss of evapo-transporation • Loss of soil cover • More water flowImpacts to Riparian Areas & Forests
Already seeing Higher Flows• 6 of top 11 peak flows in 102 years (1999-2009) • More Rain on Snow • Mortality in lodgepole forest
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)
Fire/Disturbance• Research Modeling predicts: – More Fires – Hotter Fires – Larger Fires – Longer fire seasons – Migration of forest types • From: Greaves, HE. 2012
Black Butte 2 reburn 2009Black Butte Fire 1981 (28 years)
Canyon Creek Fire 2012• B&B Fire area re-burn (9 years)• Lower fire intensities• 6-10 foot shrubs• Standing & down wood
• Restore natural process• Reduce risk of high intensity fires coming out of wilderness• Willamette and Deschutes proposal• Scoping in ProgressPrescribed Fire in the Wilderness?
SOILS Increased: •Sediment delivery from roads •Erosion from loss of soil cover •Erosion from increased peak flows or flood events
Unstable banks• 11% before Eyerly Fire• 22% after Fire
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
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
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
WILDLIFE • Loss of moist forests and owl habitat and connectivity continuesSpotted Owls • 21 known owl sites down to 3
•Other species will thrive •WoodpeckersWILDLIFE •Big game •Upland Birds
WEEDS• Increase in Invasive plants• Spread of cheatgrass- very flammable
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
SOCIALIncreased understanding of urban interface wildfire risk Black Butte Ranch Cache Mountain Fire 2002
Homes were lost2 houses burned at Black Butte Ranch
Salvage projects willremain controversial• 4,000 acres of salvage in B&B• Road hazard tree salvage proposed for Pole Creek• Additional analysis underway
Continued opportunities forPublic Involvement & Partnership
What’s important to you in Whychus watershed?
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.