A History of Wildfire in the Gorge

by | SOP 14

with Chris Donnermeyer

Date & Time: March 20th, 2024 at 7 pm

Location: Columbia Center for the Arts, 215 Cascade Ave, Hood River, OR

Lecture Description:

Recent catastrophic fires in Oregon and Washington have been a stark reminder of wildlands fire’s place on the landscape, but also the detrimental effects it can have on people and the environment. First Peoples have utilized fire as a tool for management of traditionally gathered and hunted resources, such as huckleberries and game, for time immemorial. Since the early 1800s natural and human-caused fires have been thoroughly documented in periodicals, the published literature, journals from settlers and early Forest Rangers, historic photos and maps, and the accounts of loggers, miners, and others involved in the extraction industries. As a tool, fire can be viewed as beneficial while most historical accounts take an opposite perspective.

This talk will discuss both aboriginal use of fire and share stories and information of fire history in the Columbia River Gorge and Pacific Northwest. We will present multiple perspectives as researched through ethnographic materials, and archival sources, especially historic photos and maps, and the multitude of stories derived through these sources.

Speaker Bio:

Chris Donnermeyer has been working as a Heritage professional since 2000 and has held many roles in both the private and public sectors. Chris began his Federal career in 2004 with the Flagstaff Area National Monuments. In 2010 Chris has a short stint with the Bonneville Power Administration, then moved to the USFS, Gifford Pinchot NF in 2011, first as the South Zone Archaeologist, then as the Heritage Program Manager. In 2017 Chris took a lateral as the Heritage Program Manager with the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (CRGNSA). The CRGNSA is not a traditional national forest, bringing with it a unique set of challenges including reconnaissance and historic survey on privately-owned lands and coordination and co-stewardship with over a dozen other Federal and state agencies, and six Tribes.