Humans, fire, and climate in western Oregon

Fire history and fire regimes of the Willamette Valley and fringe habitats

Local fire history and fire regime information are necessary in fire management plan development and implementation. Understanding the relationship of fire, climate and vegetation is useful in resolving restoration, wildfire risk reduction, and wildfire for resource benefit issues. This is especially true in the Willamette Valley and Valley fringe lands, where population growth and land-use change are expected to double in the next few decades. Oak woodlands, savannas and prairies, and dry Douglas-fir and grand fir forests occur within the largely wildland urban interface within the valley and fringe.

This proposed project builds on this effort by developing a transect of 2000-yr-long fire records based on lake-sediment records from the Willamette Valley, where traditional dendrochronogical methods are not possible. Our objectives are to 1) reconstruct regional variation in historical fire regimes from the foothills of the Coast Range across the Willamette Valley to the foothils of western margin of the Cascade Range, to 2) reconstruct the historical vegetation changes, including major shifts in vegetation composition as well as stand structure and composition that resulted from these fire regimes, and to 3) communicate our findings to land managers and researchers through oral presentations, written reports and peer-reviewed publications.