Project Name: Tumblebug Fire Restoration
Location: Willamette National Forest, OR
Number of Trees: 60,000
Many people know them as Christmas trees, but Douglas-firs are much more than holiday décor. According to the USDA, they are one of the world’s most important and valuable trees. Douglas-fir has been a major species in North America’s western forests since the mid-Pleistocene, approximately 100 thousand years ago. Named after Scottish botanist David Douglas, who made many scientific trips to North America, including one to Oregon Territory in 1823, it’s no surprise that the fir is the state’s official tree.
Running along the western slope of the Cascade Range in Oregon, Willamette National Forest is 1.6 million acres of high mountains, narrow canyons and woodlands, which include large amounts of Douglas-fir. In September 2009, a lightning storm sparked 25 fires (later known as the Tumblebug Complex) in Willamette’s Middle Fork Ranger District. Most of the fires were quickly contained, but three burned on, and by the end of October, Tumblebug had claimed almost 15,000 acres of forestland. More than 8,000 of these acres were declared to have nearly complete mortality, meaning the forest would not be able to regenerate naturally due to lack of seeds and suitable growing conditions. Outside help was needed to restore the mighty Douglas-fir to this burned area, which is where American Forests is able to assist.
Working with the USDA Forest Service, American Forests is planting 60,000 Douglas-firs in Willamette in 2012. The new Douglas-firs will provide habitat for a number of sensitive and threatened species such as Northern spotted owl, wolverine and bald eagle, as well as mountain beaver and Roosevelt elk.
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