Fire on the Land: A Keystone Ecological Process

The color palette of the Klamath-Siskiyous is a contrast of red serpentine soils, turquoise rivers, yellowing oak-savannah, ever-green forests, and the all-but-forgotten deep black of charred trees.

From Fire, Diversity Springs to Life.

A suite of species depend on fire for their life cycles. Healthy stands of white and purple Ceanothus burst forth after fire and provide for a suite of pollinators. Knobcone pines love the heat that enables their cones to release seeds. Black-backed woodpeckers thrive by foraging amongst blackened snags. Fire is as necessary as water is to the local forest ecosystem.

Fire, Making a Landscape Revival

Though our landscape evolved with the presence of fire for thousands of years, fire has just recently gotten a bad rap. The first nation people of this region have understood the role of fire on the landscape, and have integrated it as part of cultural and food systems. The corresponding colonization by Europeans and genocide and displacement of indigenous people, was followed by governmental fire exclusion and suppression policies and practices. This history has significantly impacted landscape processes, fire regimes, and indigenous cultures. We must all realize that fire is only catastrophic when it destroys homes or results in loss of life, and how it is a vital and beneficial part of natural forest cycles.


Be Careful When Playing With Fire Management

Today, fire is used as an excuse to open up millions of acres of public lands to unsus- tainable thinning and post-fire salvage logging. Poor forest-fire management practices, like removing big fire-resistant trees and large snags, establishing homogenous tree plantations or farms, and consequently destroying natural seedlings, only reinforce a cycle of unnatural catastrophic fire.

In our very short existence on this planet, humans have made an undeniable negative impact on the forest condition. It is a critical time for us to allow natural processes like fire to return and restore the forested landscape to a healthy condition.