Mt Hood National Forest: Fire behavior and forest conditions inferred from early surveys and inventories

Restoring the structure, function, and resilience of fire prone forests is a major goal of federal forest managers and their partners. Historical fire regimes guide contemporary restoration efforts by identifying where the exclusion of fires and other management activities including historical tree harvest practices and grazing have increased fuel loading, the proportion of fire-sensitive tree species, and the risk of uncharacteristically severe wildfire (Merschel et al. 2018, Hagmann et al. 2021). The precise year, seasonality, and frequency of historical fires can be reconstructed from cambial fire scars in tree rings (Smith et al. 2016). While these “tree ring” fire history records have been broadly applied across North America (Margolis et al. 2022), they were not previously available on the East side of the Mt. Hood. In 2022, The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) awarded a competitive grant for a tree ring reconstruction of historical fires in partnership with Mt. Hood National Forest Service and their collaborative partners, including the Wasco County Forest Collaborative and Hood River Forest Collaborative. This fire history reconstruction provides a refined understanding of historical fire regimes and their geography on the East side of the Mt. Hood National Forest. For this study area, we compare the distribution of high‐severity burn areas and forest structure and composition in early inventory and survey records with each other and with the results of a tree‐ring reconstruction of historical fire events.