Guide Fire Ecology of Pacific Northwest Forests

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Fire Ecology of Pacific Northwest Forests and millions of other books are available for Amazon Kindle. James K. Agee is professor of forest ecology in the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington, Seattle. Start reading Fire Ecology of Pacific Northwest Forests.
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Fire ecology and management in the Blue Mountains (Part 4)

Fire Ecology of Pacific Northwest Forests is a historical, analytical, and ecological approach to the effects and use of fire in Pacific Northwest wildlands. Agee, a leading expert in the emerging field of fire ecology, analyzes the ecological role of fire in the creation and maintenance of the natural forests common to most of the western United States. In addition to examining fire from an ecological perspective, he provides insight into its historical and cultural aspects, and also touches on some of the political issues that influence the use and control of fire in the United States.

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In addition to serving as a sourcebook for natural area managers interested in restoring or maintaining fire regimes in Pacific Northwest wildlands, this volume provides an essential base of knowledge for all others interested in wildland management who wish to understand the ecological effects of fire. Although the chapters on the ecology of specific forest zones focus on the Pacific Northwest, much of the book addresses issues not unique to that region.

The findings, published today in Global Change Biology , represent an important tool for scientists and land managers because woodlands throughout the western United States are under increasing stress from accelerated rates of drought-related mortality related to global, human-caused climate change. Also, the Northwest's hemlock, Douglas-fir and redwood forests have tremendous potential to counteract climate change via their carbon-sequestration abilities, meaning policies that promote stewardship of those forests is critical, the scientists say. Buotte and College of Forestry colleague Beverly Law led a collaboration that modeled 13 different major forest types from around the western United States, taking into account climate conditions and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels over the next 30 years.

The model was high-resolution both from a spatial standpoint -- it broke forests into grids of 16 square kilometers -- and also because it looked at species-specific responses to environmental variables. Forests along the Pacific coast and western Cascades regions, where there is ample rain, are projected to be the least vulnerable to either drought or fire. Stress from drought causes trees to shed leaves, limiting their capacity for photosynthesis; insect infestations also make life hard for drought-affected trees.


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The researchers stress that there is a lot of spatial variability in future vulnerability. And that fire vulnerability is not the same as fire intensity.

Find in a library : Fire ecology of Pacific Northwest forests

Materials provided by Oregon State University. Original written by Steve Lundeberg. It is likely that detailed knowledge about how to use fire and manage its ecosystemic effects traditionally was controlled by a few specialists. Most burning took place in late summer, after harvest, probably as both a "cleaning up" process and to prepare the land for the next year.


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Sharp borders of many historic prairies suggest the use of carefully controlled fire, and most observed fires were of low intensity to prevent deleterious effects. Lightning fires are not common in Pacific Northwest lower elevations; and in the absence of regular firing, trees have invaded and eliminated most nineteenth-century prairies. Concerning the land, there may even have been an aesthetic that favored open meadows and forests cleared of underbrush.

In , anthropologist Jay Miller recorded a lament from a Methow elder: "When my people lived here, we took good care of all this land. We burned it over every fall to make it like a park. Now it is a jungle. Perhaps the most important effect of the controlled use of fire on wild food plants was to change the normal sequences of plant succession, from late stages dominated by wood species in which nutrients were locked up to early stages that favored short-lived forbs and berries.

Fire also removed weedy competition and refuse, killed insects and pathogens, and laid down a fertilizing layer of ash. The judicious use of fire also promoted the growth of basketry materials, such as hazel withes and beargrass Xerophyllum tenax , and increased deer and elk habitat by thinning underbrush and creating more edge environments.

Fire was also used to gather grasshoppers, tarweed Madia , and sugar pine Pinus lambertiana seeds.


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  4. Anthropogenic fire was most common in the Willamette, upper Umpqua, and Rogue Valleys; in high-elevation huckleberry areas; and in eastside Ponderosa forests, the traditional homelands of Kalapuya, upper Umpqua, Takelma, and Sahaptin peoples. In the western valleys, fire maintained open oak savannah prairies, an endangered ecosystem that supported many plant and animal species that are now extirpated or rare in their former ranges.

    Programs of prescribed burning similar to those practiced by Oregon's first peoples are now being used to save this biological heritage. In the twenty-first century, prevailing ideas about West Coast Natives' relations to the land and its resources have changed.

    Why Many Northwest Animals And Plants Need Wildfire

    In the Pacific Northwest, the stereotype was of a land of plenty, where salmon was available in abundance and was the most important food resource. The hunting-gathering and fishing subsistence modes of Northwest Natives were implicitly and negatively contrasted to the agricultural systems of their EuroAmerican successors, who tilled the soil, planted seeds, and tended domesticated plants and animals.

    This view ignores traditional practices and perpetuates a stereotype of "primitive" versus "civilized. New data, however, demonstrate that Oregon and West Coast Natives possessed a land and resource management system that was complex, sophisticated, internally consistent, and based on an underlying principal of coexistence with nature. Salmon was not as predominant a food in most Native diets as once thought, and people used a diverse range of wild resources, particularly plant species.

    Fish runs were unpredictable, and food resources might not last through an entire year, leading to malnutrition and even starvation in late winter and early spring.