‘Shaped By Fire’ is a personal project I’m working on about different types of forest management in the West and how they affect wildfire behavior. Decades of profit-driven rhetoric in Oregon lawmaking have funded extensive logging and thinning of forests in the name of fire prevention, but recent scientific studies suggest these conventions fail to protect vulnerable communities. In some cases, managed landscapes even burnt up to 30% more severely than naturally diverse forest.
As Oregon’s summers become drier and longer due to climate change, we can expect the acreage of fires to continue rising as well. Fire scientists are calling for an overhaul of the management industry, and a cultural paradigm shift towards preparing for the inevitable threat of fire rather than continuing to spend millions in the name of “prevention.” This year’s Fire Bill is Oregon’s first ever to fund community-preparedness measures as well as thinning and suppression, and I’ve been documenting different pilot programs which aim to more effectively mitigate risk of ignition in and around communities.