Methods > Clearcutting
Topic: Clearcuts & Wildlife
> What does Douglas-fir needs to thrive?
A Cycle of Fire
Douglas-fir seedlings grow best
in nearly full sunlight.
Historically, Douglas-fir has depended
on wildfires to expose mineral soil and remove overhead
cover and brush that would otherwise block the sunlight
these young trees need.
The large openings created by wildfires were "weed-free"
and gave the Douglas-fir seeds an all-important head start
over competing plants.
Eventually the forest grew back to a
thick canopy dominated by Douglas-fir, only to burn once
again in a cycle that repeated itself every 50-500 years
in western Oregon.
These wildfires were often huge, burning whole counties
as they swept through Oregons Douglas-fir forests!
For obvious reasons like active forest fire suppressiontoday,
far fewer acres are burned by wildfires.
While clearcuts are not exactly like
wildfires, they do the job of creating the opening that
Douglas-fir needs to thrive. And with prompt reforestation
required by the Oregon
Forest Practices Act, foresters are able to regrow new
forests and begin a new forest cycle.