In July of 2002, a lightning storm in the Siskiyou National Forest sparked what is known as the Biscuit Fire. It is the largest recorded forest fire in Oregon’s history.
The fire left nearly half a million acres charred when it finally fizzled out months later. The Biscuit Fire raised complex questions about how to handle wildfires before, during and after their occurrence.
The massive burn area presented forest ecologists with a laboratory. Researchers could see how fire (and forest management) affected logged areas, areas involved in controlled burns and other unmanaged areas. They could compare each area’s regrowth rates.
Salvage logging — the removal of dead trees after a wildfire — caused disagreements between those in the logging industry and forest ecologists.
Loggers pointed out that dead trees are still profitable timber, while ecologists say the trees are also key to revitalizing burned forests.
In the aftermath of the Biscuit Fire, the Siskiyou National Forest continues to regrow while debate over how to manage wildfires rages on.