1. #1
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    Post Examining the Biscuit Fire

    GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - When Biscuit - the nation's biggest
    wildfire this year - was on its hind legs and roaring last July,
    anyone looking at the towering plumes of smoke in southwestern
    Oregon could only wonder how anything could survive the inferno.
    Now that most of the flames have cooled, however, a closer look
    at the nearly 500,000 acres within the containment lines reveals a
    landscape typical of wildfire: More than half either did not burn,
    or burned at low intensity, leaving mature trees green, standing,
    and better off.
    "When a fire burns, unlike what is seen in cartoons, not every
    tree is killed, not every plant is killed, not every acre is burned
    to nothing," said Eric Christiansen, fire behavior analyst on the
    elite federal management team that stopped Biscuit from roaring
    into Oregon's Illinois Valley.
    While the fire put the 17,000 people in the valley on evacuation
    alert as it burned five cabins and threatened others, in the long
    run it maintained the well-being of individual species and the
    Siskiyou National Forest as a whole.
    "The worst thing that we could have is to be so enamored of our
    forests that we eliminate the processes that change them," said
    Tom Atzet, the U.S. Forest Service ecologist for southwestern
    Oregon.
    Charred rings on old trees show fire returns to the area burned
    by Biscuit every 70 years on average on the wetter west side and
    every 50 years on the drier east side, he said.
    Just how that fire burns depends on the mix of weather, fuel and
    terrain, Christiansen said. A windy, hot and dry day, combined with
    steep ravines filled with heavy brush, fallen logs and tightly
    packed trees, means flames twice the height of the timber and
    temperatures up to 2,000 degrees.
    But you would hardly notice the fire that comes through sparse
    timber in flat rocky ground on a cool humid day with little wind.
    Even patches of grass survive.
    Both those scenarios can be found on Biscuit. As conditions
    changed through each day and across the landscape, the fire
    intensity changed, creating a mosaic of different results.
    A satellite map for assessing rehabilitation efforts showed 19
    percent of the Biscuit fire area, about 95,000 acres, was unburned;
    41 percent, about 205,000 acres, burned at low intensity, leaving
    green trees standing and healthy while clearing out brush and small
    trees.
    Only 15.7 percent, about 78,500 acres, burned at high intensity,
    leaving little but ash and charcoal behind, and 22.6 percent, about
    113,000 acres, burned at moderate intensity.
    A good place to see the phenomenon is Babyfoot Lake. The fire
    burned hot on steep slopes around the lake, but at the shore, where
    the water cooled and humidified the air and a towering cliff cut
    the wind, half the shoreline did not burn. Centuries-old pine and
    Douglas fir stand as proof that fire can't fully flex its muscles
    here.
    The same phenomenon served to spare much of the vegetation along
    the Illinois River, home to salmon and steelhead, said hydrologist
    Jon Brazier.
    The Forest Service has yet to analyze just how past logging may
    have affected fire behavior, an issue in the debate over how
    forests should be managed to reduce vulnerability to wildfire.
    But logging may not prove to be much of a factor. There has been
    little cutting here since the 1980s, and the burn analysis of the
    1987 Silver fire, which burned nearly 100,000 acres in the same
    area, showed little difference between wilderness and areas that
    had been logged.
    At a cost of nearly $150 million, fighting Biscuit looks
    expensive. But another way to look at it, Atzet said, would be to
    imagine Congress appropriating $150 million to do prescribed burns
    restoring fire to its proper place in the ecosystem.
    "In an ecological sense, we just invested $150 million," Atzet
    said.
    For example, the kalmiopsis bush, for which the Kalmiopsis
    Wilderness where the fire started is named, depends on fire to kill
    the white fir that competes with it for water, sunlight and
    nutrients, Atzet said.
    The thin bark on white fir gives it less protection from fire
    than ponderosa pine and Douglas fir, with thick bark. Surviving
    trees do better than ever.
    Dwarf mistletoe, a parasite that stunts Douglas fir, gets
    knocked back by fire, said Ellen Goheen, a Forest Service plant
    pathologist.
    "Mistletoe creates huge brooms in trees," she said. "Those
    brooms act as wicks, taking ground fire to a crown fire."
    Spaced out more widely by fire, trees are less susceptible to
    root diseases, such as deadly Port Orford cedar root rot, which can
    be passed root-to-root, she added. Heat kills the spores.
    Darlingtonia - an insect-eating plant also known as cobra plant
    - will likely expand their command of hillside bogs now that
    competing plants on the edges have been killed, said Siskiyou
    ecologist Diane White.
    Chemicals leaching out of the ashes can stimulate acorns to
    sprout into oak trees, giving them a head start on pines and firs
    waiting for the spring. Madrones will sprout from the bole - the
    underground connection between the trunk and the roots - after the
    top of the tree is killed.
    Knobcone pines not only need the heat of fire to open their
    cones, but their seeds love the mineral soil exposed when fire
    burns off the duff - needles and bark built up over the years.
    "It's important that part of the system be burned at high
    severity," said Atzet.
    Siskiyou wildlife biologist Lee Webb said some animals surely
    got trapped by the fire and died, but he never saw one in eight
    days of walking the fire. None of the 250 species found on the
    Siskiyou have been driven off by the fire, though some fared better
    than others.
    Blue birds and olivesided flycatchers will flock to the burn,
    either for insects to eat or nesting cavities. Deer and elk herds
    will likely increase because the fire expanded meadows and
    sprouting trees and brush will provide more food.
    But the Northern spotted owl, a threatened species responsible
    for practically shutting down logging on Northwest national
    forests, will likely do worse.
    The fate of the 47 pairs of spotted owls whose range falls
    within the fire boundaries is not known yet, but satellite mapping
    indicates the fire killed about 53,000 acres of old growth forest
    considered suitable for owl habitat - one-seventh of the total owl
    habitat on the forest, Webb said.
    "Nothing is good or bad for wildlife," as a whole, Webb said.
    "We've got 250 species out there, and there is a range."
    ---
    On the Net:
    Biscuit Fire: http://www.biscuitfire.com/

    (Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  2. #2
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    Post Fire Declared OUT

    (Grants Pass-AP) -- The largest forest fire to hit Oregon in a
    century will officially be declared out tonight -- 172 days after
    it started.
    Rains have soaked the coastal mountains west of Grants Pass for
    several days. This has caused the Rogue River to reach flood stage
    near Agness, one of the communities that the wildfire threatened to
    overrun last summer.
    A U-S Forest Service official in Grants Pass says that the
    Biscuit fire will officially be declared out at 6 p-m.
    He picked the date a few weeks back, noting that extensive rains
    had already hit the area. Also, no smoke had been observed in the
    500-thousand-acre burn zone recently.
    And, straw spread across charred timberland to prevent erosion
    had NOT caught fire.


    (Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  3. #3
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    Post

    GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - Last summer's Biscuit fire wiped out
    about half of the forest canopy in its 500,000-acre swath, and much
    of that was old-growth habitat for the endangered northern spotted
    owl.
    U.S. Forest Service biologists say the species will survive in
    the 1.1 million-acre forest, but its numbers there may decline as
    much as 20 percent because wildfire did some of its greatest damage
    on 81,000 acres set aside for their protection.
    The latest assessment is part of the post-fire report describing
    the fire's effect on the forest's key resources, including creeks
    and rivers, wildlife and habitat, recreation and forest products.
    It also includes dozens of recommendations for managing the forest
    in light of changed conditions following the fire.
    The Biscuit fire affected 49 of the Siskiyou Forest's 202 known
    northern spotted owl territories, including 22 which lie completely
    within the fire perimeter and an additional 11 where the nests were
    within the fire perimeter, according to the report.
    Each northern spotted owl territory is 3,400 acres, and
    biologists rate the quality of individual territories by the
    percentage that is classified as late successional forest at least
    160 years old. The benchmark for excellent habitat is 40 percent
    old growth or more.
    Before the Biscuit fire, 40 of the 49 territories affected by
    the flames contained at least 40 percent old growth, said Lee Webb,
    biologist for the Siskiyou Forest. After the fire, only 17 contain
    at least 40 percent old growth.
    Webb thinks most of the owls survived the fire but many won't
    come back to areas that no long offer sufficient food or shelter.
    "With up to 80,000 acres of suitable habitat gone, there might
    be up to 40 pair that there isn't suitable habitat for," he said.
    Foresters say salvage logging and replanting areas where some
    old-growth trees survive would result in forests that might support
    owls in 80 to 100 years. But environmental groups plan to challenge
    salvage logging projects because most of the trees are in roadless
    areas.
    "We definitely have a problem with any kind of logging in
    roadless areas, late successional reserves or wild river
    corridors," said Barbara Ullian of the Cave Junction-based
    Siskiyou Regional Education Project.


    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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