Wildfire in the Gorge: The Good, the Bad, and Lessons from Eagle Creek
Jan. 11, 2023 at 7 pm
Each summer, the devastating effects of wildfire across the western U.S. dominate news headlines as warmer temperatures, prolonged drought, and lengthier fire seasons contribute to exceptionally high fire risk. In recent decades, the frequency of large wildfires has increased, and new maximums for the scale, speed, and severity of wildfires have been set. Still, the occurrence of wildfire is more nuanced than most news headlines would have us believe. Fire is an important part of maintaining healthy, diverse ecosystems. Wildfires release valuable nutrients into the soil, initiate re-birth, and provide habitat for fire-dependent plant and animal species.
In 2017, the Eagle Creek fire ripped through over 48,000 acres in the Columbia River Gorge. It was the largest fire in the Gorge in the past century. Smoke filled the air as forests burned, residents were evacuated, highways closed, and businesses shut down. Five years later, what can we learn from this historic event? How has it affected our local landscapes, communities, and fire management practices? And as wildfire becomes increasingly common in the Gorge, how can we better understand its costs and benefits, as well as, how to coexist with this incredible force of nature?
- Oregon Air Quality Network – You can view a map of the monitors by visiting this website. Oregon State University received a $10,000 grant from the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute which was used to purchase ten air quality monitors placed at schools and orchard sites across Hood River and Wasco County.
- Columbia Gorge Community Response Plan Listening Session – OSU received $80,000 from Oregon DEQ to develop a Community Response Plan for Wildfire smoke. This plan will help us identify how best to communicate with people in our region during smoke events. This form is the registration for the Community Listening Session for folks to share their feedback and input on February 3rd, 2023 from 12:00 pm-1:30 pm.