World Forestry Center
World Forestry Center
We think of forests as ancient and unchanging, but in the inland West, the forests we see today look nothing like those of 150 years ago. The historical landscape was an evolving patchwork of meadows, shrublands, sparse woodlands, and open and closed-canopy forests of all ages and sizes, sculpted by frequent fires. For 10,000 years, Indigenous people settled this landscape and managed it with intentional burning.
But in the mid-1800s, things changed. European colonization, the loss of Indigenous burning, livestock grazing, roads and railroads all interrupted the flow of fires across the landscape. After the 1910 Big Burn, wildfire became public enemy number one. By 1935, fire suppression extinguished most wildfires and forests rapidly changed. Patchworks filled with trees and forests became vulnerable to wildfires.
"It is up to all of us. The future of our forests depends on it."
After 150 years without fire, densely packed forests now coupled with climate change, and the hotter, drier, and windier weather that accompanies it, means more mega fires like those we saw in 2020. The good news is that we have the tools and know-how to restore our forests. We can use prescribed burns and mechanical thinning to intentionally remove excess trees. We can manage some wildfires in back country for resource benefits. It’s possible. It is up to all of us. The future of our forests depends on it.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Dr. Paul Hessburg
Research Landscape Ecologist
PNW Research Station
Home to nearly 2,000 animals representing more than 200 species from around the world. From education programs to on-the-ground conservation efforts, the zoo is working to save species regionally and worldwide.
In 1998, TriMet built the Washington Park MAX Station, which is the deepest transit station in North America at 260 feet below ground. It's also the only underground station in the entire MAX system.
Washington Park MAX Station
Founded in 1928 to conserve endangered species and educate the community, Hoyt Arboretum encompasses 190 ridge-top acres and 12 miles of hiking and biking trails just minutes from downtown Portland.
Explore & Connect
Explore over 150 years of Washington Park, originally called City Park, and its many destinations by virtually visiting the featured Discovery Points. Each Discovery Point connects you to history, photos, and community members’ stories.