As ‘smoke clears,’ HR forum explores post-fire ecology


FOREST RECOVERY will likely dominate the discussion at a Thursday forum titled “After the Smoke Clears.” Speakers will talk about ecology and other aspects tied to post-Eagle Creek fire efforts.

Photo by Trip Jennings
FOREST RECOVERY will likely dominate the discussion at a Thursday forum titled “After the Smoke Clears.” Speakers will talk about ecology and other aspects tied to post-Eagle Creek fire efforts.

A Hood River forum will examine what comes post-Eagle Creek fire and how the public can get involved in the forest’s recovery.

The free event is titled “After the Smoke Clears: How you can support forest recovery in the Columbia River Gorge.” It takes place at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 30, at the Bowe Theater, Hood River Valley High School, at 1220 Indian Creek Road.

The session, hosted by Friends of the Columbia Gorge, an environmental conservation group, will feature a mix of multimedia presentations on the fire and examinations of challenges moving forward.

A panel discussion, followed by a question and answer session, will feature fire ecologists, forestry researchers, and leaders from business, conservation and recreation groups.

Jerry Franklin, a professor at University of Washington’s Environmental and Forest Sciences department, will deliver the keynote.

Franklin on Tuesday touched on some topics he expects to tackle.

He said a major fire such as Eagle Creek on the west side of the Cascades is scary, but its impacts are natural, even if this particular blaze was human caused.

“Natural reforestation is going to occur rapidly,” Franklin said, in the predominately Douglas fir and Hemlock forests of western Gorge. “I think nature is going to do an excellent job of restoring the greenery.”

Franklin has seen portions of the burned area, and he noted a “tremendous amount of green trees” remaining in the fire’s wake. Such an effect is characteristic of forest fires in the region, he said.

Franklin will also discuss the difference between western and eastern forests in Oregon and Washington, forestry practices, and salvage logging.

Franklin is critical of the political call in Congress for such logging in the fire’s aftermath. He contends that salvage logging, while serving an economic benefit, has no ecological purpose and should only be taken on to protect human property and safety.

He co-authored a 2008 book on the topic, “Salvage Logging: Its Ecological Consequences.”

On Sept. 8, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) introduced a bill that fast-tracks salvaging and reforestation projects within the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area and other scenic areas stricken by wildfires.

Walden’s bill would require the U.S. Forest Service to start developing a cleanup and reforestation plan within 30 days of a natural disaster — or containment of a scenic area fire.

In addition to Franklin, event speakers on Nov. 30 include:

Heather Staten, Hood River Valley Residents Committee executive director, as facilitator.

Jurgen Hess, former acting area manager for U.S. Forest Service Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.

Caroline Park, Thunder Island Brewing Co. co-owner.

Michael Lang, Friends of the Gorge conservation director.

The event will follow Friends’ recent forums in Portland and Troutdale; the Hood River forum will be the last in a trio.

Doors open at 5:45 p.m at HRVHS on Nov. 30.

UPDATE:

This post has been updated from the print version to correct the spelling of Professor Jerry Franklin's first name.

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