Active forest management may have prevented Camp Creek Fire

By Nick Smith, director of Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities
The Outlook
August 31, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Nick Smith

The Camp Creek Fire, currently burning perilously close to Oregon’s Bull Run watershed, underscores the need for proactive forest management. As the flames threaten Portland’s drinking water source, it becomes evident that policies prioritizing preservation over proactive mitigation may be putting the watershed at severe risk. The looming threat of wildfires in the Bull Run watershed is well-documented. The Portland Water Bureau’s 2014 Fire Management Plan suggested that given the natural fire rotation, the watershed has been due for a large scale fire. Yet the city government and its voters have doubled down on policies that make managing the watershed even more prohibitive. One such policy, Measure 26-204, introduced in 2019 imposed additional “protections” for the watershed’s old-growth forests and vulnerable species like the Northern spotted owl. The measure requires voter approval for certain forest management activities and hamstrings efforts to undertake crucial fuels reduction and commercial thinning to curb wildfire risks.

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