Following the lifting of the burn ban in Klickitat County, Mt. Adams Resource Stewards (MARS) conducted a small prescribed burn on approximately 2 acres of the Klickitat Rim parcel of the Mt. Adams Community Forest on Thursday, October 27, 2022. The burn was successfully conducted in-house with MARS staff and led by Lucas King, our certified burn manager. The site had been commercially thinned over the past year and then prepped for the burn. Beyond simply reducing fuel loads, the purposes of this burn included silvicultural objectives of improving soil seed beds for seedling establishment and reducing competing vegetation.
Fire has long been an established disturbance in this region, whether caused by natural events such as lightning or human caused intentional or accidental fires. Many species in this area, such as ponderosa pine, are adapted to historic fire regimes consisting of frequent, low- to moderate- severity fires. Fire suppression policies have altered the ecosystems of the region creating fuel loading and fuel types that are outside historic ranges of variability. This altered forest structure combined with climate change impacts of increased temperatures and drought have shifted fire frequency, intensity, and severity resulting in increased high impact or catastrophic fire. These high impact fires have detrimental effects on forest structure, air quality, water quality, soil health, carbon cycling, wildlife, and human health and safety.
MARS strives to be a leader in advancing the knowledge and use of prescribed fire. We continue to educate and train ourselves and have conducted several prescribed burns on our properties over the years; learning more with each burn. We actively share knowledge and assist other public and private sector entities in utilizing prescribed fire. Proper use and timing of prescribed fires that mimic the low- to moderate-severity, frequent fires means that we can maintain healthy forest structure and composition. We can reduce negative impacts to air quality and water quality. Rather than soils being degraded through high intensity burns, prescribed fires can improve soil quality through better nutrient cycling and increased sorption capacity. East of the Cascades, where decay rates can be slow due to temperature and moisture constraints, the soil development benefits of prescribed fire can be especially important.
As a community forest-based organization, our care and concern for the health and well-being of the human (and non-human) members of this community are paramount to MARS. Our management, monitoring, and outreach all drive for that goal; and part of that is our continued use and export of knowledge involving prescribed fire.
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