Although our past 2 Portland-area summers have been unusually cool and damp, both years have boasted extensive fires in our beloved Bull of the Woods Wilderness.
Please see the map below for areas to avoid in Bull of the Woods; post-fire areas can be very dangerous until the damage has been evaluated and the trails and camps repaired. Don't take a chance! A falling burned snag (dead standing tree) can injure or kill you.
courtesy of US Forest Service, Mt. Hood National Forest
(Map current as of July 2012)
Fire is part of the natural order here in the American West. In fact, some tree species won't even spit out their seeds until a fire bakes the cones. Big thick barked Douglas Firs can withstand all but the most brutal blazes, thriving in the rich soils provided by a post-fire ecology.
Mt. Hood nearly obscured by smoke in 2011
All NW forests will have their days of rich green glory, and all NW forests will have their day in the bright orange blaze.
But just how much is left to burn? Is an un-managed forest even possible in this era? We live in strange times indeed, where even the sanctity of the forest isn't guaranteed. Perhaps it never was.
Bull of the Woods bracketed by clearcuts (courtesy of Google Maps)
Like your driver's licence, wilderness is a privilege, not a right. It is up to us to take better care of our forests, lest they be gone forever. It is up to us, working with the grace of a higher power.