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:: Home > The Forest > Reproduction Methods > Clearcutting > Hot Topic: Clearcuts & Wildlife > What does Douglas-fir needs to thrive?

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A Cycle of Fire…

Douglas-fir seedlings grow best in nearly full sunlight.Douglas-fir branches

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.

Recent Burnclearcut 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.

forest fireforest fire tanker plane These wildfires were often huge, burning whole counties as they swept through Oregon’s Douglas-fir forests! For obvious reasons— like active forest fire suppression—today, far fewer acres are burned by wildfires.forest fire suppression

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.