More than 20 separate wildfires burned over 526,000 acres of forest in Oregon this summer.
Government officials, civic volunteers, firefighters and many Oregonians rose to battle the fires. Oregon’s land is about 48 percent forest, and 1.75 percent of these forests have been in the midst of a wildfire during the summer of 2017.
Fire season begins in May and generally ends in September. Oregon’s air quality became so poor this past summer that September was dubbed “Smoketember,” with large areas of land completely clouded over by smoke and ash from the fires. Salem was shrouded by ash, with student drivers and parents finding “snow” on their cars.
Stretching from Southern Washington to Southern Oregon, the fires sent smoke into Northern California and over the 63-million acres in Oregon. State Forests, National Parks, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and the National Forest Services, all of which are major landowners in oregon, worked together to ensure the fires didn’t spread.
“[BLM, ODF, National Forests and State forests] have to collaborate and work together to make sure the fires are being put out and the mission of their agency is still being met,” Dottie Knecht said.
Knecht currently works as the Environmental Systems and Societies teacher at South and former National Forest Service Ecologist. She previously worked in the North West for the National Forest Services as a botanist and ecologist.
“Majority of fires this year started on national forest land, but ODF was involved in many of those fires as well,” Knecht said.
While the National Forest Services(NFS) owned much of the land consumed by the fires, Oregon’s Department of Forestry helped the NFS with Oregon’s fire safety department leading a majority of the fire fighting.