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Wildfire Risk

The Need for Fuel Treatments

The Need for Fuel Treatments

Wildfire is an important natural disturbance process that helps maintain the health and diversity of Oregon forests. But growing numbers of people reside and recreate in these forests and large, hard to suppress wildfires are increasingly frequent. More human values at risk from wildfire than ever before.

Many experts agree that wildfire risk has increased because fire fuels- needles, twigs, leaves, branches, flammable, brushy undergrowth and densely stocked, small diameter trees- have built up to levels much higher than was the case historically.

Wildland fires are a fact of Oregon life- a natural component of the ecosystems where we live. But reintroducing fire or allowing fires to burn in dry forests can be risky in the short-term, because fuels have accumulated to such high levels. An e stimated 5.6 million acres of Oregon forests have fuel loadings so high that prescribed fires cannot be safely used.

When wildfires do break out in these areas, they tend to be severe and hard to control, with a greater risk of intense, large-scale, stand-replacing crown fires in areas where lower intensity surface fires were historically the norm.

Fuels treatments are seen as a pro-active way to reduce wildfire risk in WUI areas, and to increase the chances of suppressing fires that do start before they become large and threaten community values.